Who wants a Brazilian?

Felipe Massa - 2014 ItalianGP
Last weekend Felipe Massa drove the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix, and by the looks of it, it will be his last. Over the years we have seen a lot of Brazilian drivers, which could surprise people, since it isn’t one of the richest countries in the world.

Usually, young talent succeeds the old (although can one really say 35 is old?) and natural replacement generally saw to it that we have seen 1 or more Brazilian driver in F1 for the last 50 years.

Chico Landi 1951–1953, 1956
Gino Bianco 1952
Nano da Silva Ramos 1955–1956
Fritz d’Orey 1959
Emerson Fittipaldi 1970–1980
Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. 1972–1973, 1975
José Carlos Pace 1972–1977
Luiz Pereira Bueno 1973
Ingo Hoffmann 1976–1977
Alex Dias Ribeiro 1976–1977, 1979
Nelson Piquet 1978–1991
Chico Serra 1981–1983
Raul Boesel 1982–1983
Roberto Pupo Moreno 1982, 1987, 1989–1992, 1995
Ayrton Senna 1984–1994
Mauricio Gugelmin 1988–1992
Christian Fittipaldi 1988–1992
Rubens Barrichello 1993–2011
Pedro Paulo Diniz 1995–2000
Ricardo Rosset 1996–1998
Tarso Marques 1996–1998
Ricardo Zonta 1999–2001, 2004–2005
Luciano Burti 2000–2001
Enrique Bernoldi 2001–2002
Felipe Massa 2002, 2004-2017
Cristiano da Matta 2003–2004
Antonio Pizzonia 2003–2005
Nelsinho Piquet 2008–2009
Bruno Senna 2010–2012
Lucas di Grassi 2010
Felipe Nasr 2015–2016

This list is so long (and dates back so far) that I can’t remember a large part of it. It seems almost impossible to have F1 without a Brazilian. Having said that, I also realise that it seemed impossible to have F1 without an Italian, but apart from Giovinazzi we haven’t seen Italian drivers for a couple of years (and I cannot count Giovinazzi full, since he didn’t compete a full season)

Back to our Brazilians. Six Brazilians won at least a single F1 GP, and they racked up 101 wins in total. Everyone has their favorite and the obvious choice for most was and in spite of Massa, remains Senna. Senna won 41 races with Nelson Piquet a distant second with 23 victories. Brazil’s last win already dates back to 2009 when Barrichello won the Grand Prix at Valencia.

F1 saw Emmerson Fittipaldi crowned Brazil’s first F1 champ, followed by Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.

Although Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa never made it to become champions, they did have long spanning careers. Barrichello has the longest ever F1 career, spanning 18 years and 326 races. Both ended their careers at Williams. Writing this I realise that Massa was last year’s come-back-kid, we should never say never, and it isn’t really Massa’s choice, but currently I don’t see any possibilities for Massa to continue.

Massa is a seriously good driver. We have seen him de-class Stroll this year in most races. Hard to beat a rookie? Somehow I expected Stroll to be closer. Points-wise the difference isn’t that large, but that 3rd place in Baku got Stroll a healthy shot of points. Massa is seriously good, but just not the top. Felipe was world champion for about 10 seconds in 2008, when Hamilton took the championship from right under Felipe’s nose.. in Brazil.. that must have hurt.

For the most time Felipe accepted he was second driver. Behind Michael Schumacher at Ferrari. I have been told this was even described contractually. This never became a problem on the track.

Massa’s motivation and name will probably land him a seat where we can still enjoy seeing him drive. Before returning to Williams for the 2017 season, talks to drive a Formula-E car were already underway. We can expect that seat will materialise over the coming months.

Jos Verstappen’s girlfriend performing grid duties for son Max

Will Brazilians need to wait another 20 years for their next champion? Will the lack of a Brazilian driver change the emotion of the Brazilian visitors at the Interlagos circuit? Will there even be a Grand Prix in Brazil in the future? This writer and certainly Jos would be deeply disappointed if it weren’t to be the case!

Indeed even Bernie Ecclestone also has a special affiliation with the Grand Prix in that particular country, not just in the wife ‘better half’ department. Ever since the death of Ayrton Senna he personally took an interest, somehow perhaps trying to repay the entire country by making sure the passionate fans had a race there. Now he’s out of the F1 picture, the race has an uncertain future with Liberty in charge and little chance of another Brazilian driver racing in F1.

So the question remains, who wants a Brazilian?



8 responses to “Who wants a Brazilian?

  1. Rubens Barrichello’s European GP victory at Valencia in 2009 was neither his nor “Brazil’s last win” (sic).

    Three weeks later, on 13 September 2009, he won the Italian GP at Monza.

  2. “since it isn’t one of the richest countries in the world.”

    True – but most / all of the drivers are from rich / very rich families. And from Senna on, with the exception of Barrichello and Massa, they’ve all been pay drivers. I personally couldn’t care less whether there’s a Brazilian in F1 or not.

  3. “Massa is a seriously good driver.”

    Massa is over-rated. In 15 seasons he outscored his team-mate 3 times. Villeneuve in 2005, Raikkonen in 2008 and Stroll in 2017. There’s a lot of sympathy for him after losing the 2008 WC and his accident at Hungary. but when you look at his stats – he’s a slightly better than average driver at best.

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