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Friday favourite: Fittipaldi on the F1 team-mate who was his "best personal friend"

Formula 1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi has faced off against many of motorsport's best names over the course of his career. But one Swede in particular stands out as his favourite team-mate.

(L to R): Barbro Peterson (SWE) (In Background) with race retiree Ronnie Peterson (SWE) and second placed Lotus team mate Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA).Canadian Grand Prix, Rd 14, Mosport Park, Canada, 23 September 1973.

(L to R): Barbro Peterson (SWE) (In Background) with race retiree Ronnie Peterson (SWE) and second placed Lotus team mate Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA).Canadian Grand Prix, Rd 14, Mosport Park, Canada, 23 September 1973.

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Two-time Formula 1 champion and double Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi was no stranger to racing against the very best during a motorsport career spanning more than three decades.

This included competing in the same team as Jochen Rindt and Denny Hulme, as well as Indy 500 winners Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan. But the Brazilian picks ‘SuperSwede’ Ronnie Peterson as his favourite team-mate due to their close friendship.

“The best team-mate I had was Ronnie because we started racing together in Europe, F3, F2 and F1 – he was a dear friend,” says the 77-year-old.

“I stayed at his home in England, he stayed at my house in Switzerland and then we raced together, it was so much fun. We were team-mates but very good friends. At that time in F1, he was my best personal friend and it was devastating when we lost him at Monza [in 1978].”

Peterson joined Lotus for the 1973 season alongside Fittipaldi, who had claimed his first F1 title with Colin Chapman’s team the previous year. The team took seven wins – three for Fittipaldi and four for Peterson – with the Swede securing his first F1 victory in France after both Lotus 72 drivers battled Jody Scheckter’s McLaren.

Fittipaldi and Peterson were team-mates at Lotus

Fittipaldi and Peterson were team-mates at Lotus

“When he won France I was dicing with Jody, tried to overtake Jody, and it was funny, he tried to overtake Jody and then raced me,” recalls Fittipaldi, who ended up three points ahead of Peterson in the standings, both beaten by Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart.

“I was third and then Ronnie gave a sign, and then I gave a sign saying, ‘I’m going to pass Jody’ and we [Scheckter and Fittipaldi] crash.”

“The best team-mate I had was Ronnie because we started racing together in Europe, F3, F2 and F1 – he was a dear friend,” Emerson Fittipaldi

Fittipaldi’s chances of retaining his title ended at Monza, when he finished second behind Peterson after they battled for the win, the reigning champion unhappy with Chapman’s decision to not implement pre-race team orders. As a result Fittipaldi left for McLaren in 1974.

“Monza was an agreement that Colin didn’t fulfil, that was very upsetting,” adds Fittipaldi. “I understand why he wanted to do it, but after the race I was disappointed and I said, ‘Time to move’.”

Fittipaldi says Peterson was his

Fittipaldi says Peterson was his "best personal friend" at the time

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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