Emerson Fittipaldi on the Copersucar years: "I was taking a risk, it's true".
Fittipaldi Automotive, sometimes called Copersucar after its first major sponsor, was the only Formula One motor racing team and constructor ever to be based in Brazil. It was formed during 1974 by racing driver Wilson Fittipaldi and his younger brother, double world champion Emerson, with money from the Brazilian sugar and alcohol cooperative Copersucar.
The team raced under a Brazilian licence. In 1976, Emerson surprised the motor racing world by leaving the title-winning McLaren team to drive for the unsuccessful family outfit. James Hunt took Fittiapldi’s place at McLaren in 1976 and won the F1 Driver’s championship in his first year. Future world champion Keke Rosberg took his first podium finish in Formula One with the team.
Based in São Paulo, their headquarters were almost 6,000 miles (10,000 km) away from the centre of the world motor racing industry in the UK, so in 1977 they relocated to Reading.
The team's best result came at their home Grand Prix in 1978 where Fittipaldi qualified 7th in the F5A.
In the closing stages 2nd placed Andretti was in serious trouble, the Lotus dramatically losing speed as the American fought with a troublesome gear selection issue. That gave Fittipaldi running in 3rd a perfect opportunity to take the place and, with seven laps to go, a huge cheer from the Brazilian crowd signalled that the yellow car was ahead. It was the first and only podium he achieved for the family team.
Fittipaldi Automotive entered 71 Grands Prix between 1975 and 1979 scoring a total of 32 championship points.
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