Emerson Fittipaldi Q&A

The great Emerson Fittipaldi goes to the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend to drive a Lotus 72 for the first time since he left Colin Chapman's team at the end of 1973.

Emerson Fittipaldi Q&A

Emerson achieved massive success with the car, winning the first of nine GPs at Watkins Glen in 1970, and taking the World Championship two years later.

The car he will drive at Goodwood is chassis 72/5, with which he scored most of his successes. However, it has been rebuilt several times, notably after his crash in the 1973 Dutch GP meeting. Fittipaldi still follows F1 closely, and attended the Canadian GP, where he hung out with pal George Harrison.

Double Indy 500 winner Emerson is still connected with CART through his promotion of the Rio oval race, although he no longer oversees the career of former protégé Helio Castroneves, who scored his first win for Penske at Detroit last weekend. Adam Cooper caught up with the Brazilian star.



"I was so excited when Charles [March] told me there was a chance to drive the John Player Special. The last time I drove the car was the US GP in 1973. Really, I never saw the car again since then! I'm sure when I'm going to see that car I'm going to remember how many hours I spent in it. If that's really chassis number five, it's the one I drove for four seasons, from 1970-'73. It was a magical chassis for me. I'm sure when I'm going to see that car, all the memories are going to come back - how much effort, how many races I raced that car, the wins, the championship."



"I would say it was the best achievement in my career. To break through and be World Champion was fantastic. I had a very strange feeling, because in 1969 when I arrived in Britain, I was dreaming that this was the country of Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart. Fangio was my idol when I was very little, but when I was a teenager I arrived in the country of all these champions, and I was going to see all these cars and drivers. And now I'm going back to drive the World Champion car from nearly 30 years ago! So it's a very strange feeling, going back."



"I'm enjoying retirement, but I'm still so much involved in racing, and I love the sport. I'm fully involved in the Rio 200, and that's a big challenge. That takes up my whole time. I arrive in the office at 6am, and I leave at midnight! There's a lot of work. We want to turn it into one of the biggest sports events in Latin America. It's a long term involvement. The situation in Brazil is not easy, but we're going to do it."



"Not Nelson, but Nelson's partner. They used his name. But everything was clear, we won everything, there's no problem. They tried to create a problem, but there wasn't a problem. It was always my race, but there was a dispute over the running of the track, but now everything is in peace."



"I think that since the split from Indianapolis we lost a lot of exposure to the public. But the races are fantastic to watch. Outside the States it's getting very strong, in Brazil, in Australia, in Japan. It will be in Germany and England soon. It's getting very international."



"I think there should be more Americans, and maybe they need an American winning to make CART bigger in America again. But when you see Montoya, who's going to be a superstar, even the American public starts looking. He's incredible. I have a lot of respect for him."



"I think it's getting much more interesting than it used to be. But both series have the same kind of problem - the lack of overtaking. Even in CART, at Milwaukee nobody could pass because of the aerodynamic package."



"It looks like it. He's dominating; Monte Carlo was on example - see you later! Very impressive."



"Yes, BMW look very strong in their first year, and I'm sure they will be a strong contender in the next few years."



"He's driving for Ferrari, one of the best teams, but to have Schumacher as a team-mate is tough. I think he is learning, and he is going through a transition time into the team, getting to know the mechanics, getting to know they way they operate. Then he should be OK. He's going to get stronger. Psychologically he needs to get it together and go for it."



"I saw David just after the Spanish GP, and he said, 'Emerson I remember your plane crash when I was leaving the plane.' He was extremely lucky and he did a very good job to go back and do so well a few days after. He showed mental strength and mental balance that's going to help him a lot in racing."



"I was only four races away from my retirement. I told Roger (Penske) on Saturday afternoon. And I crashed on Sunday. Laguna Seca was going to be my last race, but it happened earlier than expected."



"It was very tough. I had a lot crashes, but I never got injured in a race car. Thank God, I was very lucky. I'm here in perfect condition to enjoy the rest of my life, after so many years of driving F1 and Indycars. Everything always went well in my career; I had some ups and downs at Copersucar, but the rest was always very successful."


Emerson Fittipaldi will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, June 22 to 25.

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