This Saturday Emerson Fittipaldi turns 74, and the two-time F1 champion has several good memories of the times he crossed paths with Ayrton Senna. Every time he’s asked about his friend, the first Brazilian driver to ever win an F1 race speaks very fondly of the three-time champion.
Even though they’ve never shared a track in the main category in motor sports, both drivers used to meet during the races, especially in the months before the start of the IndyCar season, when Emerson was able to travel around Europe along with the F1 championship,.
Take a look back at a few stories:
1- Emerson hands Senna the trophy on the podium
In a story told by journalist Reginaldo Leme to Senna TV, Emerson gave Senna the trophy for his win at Hockenheim (Germany) for the Formula Ford 2000 championship, one of F1’s entry categories at the time. On the August 8, 1982, Emerson was interviewed by Reginaldo right after the podium ceremony. Fittipaldi laid out which steps Senna should take next in his career.
2- F1 Tire tests at Jacarepaguá
Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi drove together in F1 for a few days. It took place in January 1984, at the Jacarepaguá Raceway, in Rio de Janeiro. While Senna had his first tests with Toleman, before his official debut, the two-time champion had been invited by Spirit – which also used Hart engines – to help the team in developing the car.
Emerson recalled the episode on a Facebook post, featuring the picture above.
“I was invited by Spirit-Hart to the tire tests at Jacarepaguá, in January 1984. Beside me, I had newcomer Ayrton Senna, recently signed by Toleman-Hart. We were staying at the same hotel, and went out to dinner every night. Those were days filled with friendship and laughter”, said Emerson.
3- Fittipaldi and Senna win on the same day
On May 28, 1989, Emerson Fittipaldi achieved one of the most important feats in his career: he won the Indy 500, in Indianapolis, USA. A few hours later, 2,025 miles away, Senna triumphed at the F1 Mexican GP, leading from start to finish and becoming the season’s points leader.
Take a look back at the final moments of both races, with commentary from Luciano do Valle and Galvão Bueno (brazilian).
4- Emerson’s prophecy about Senna
In a story told to Globoesporte.com’s reporter Felipe Siqueira, Emerson talked about when Ayrton was his best bet to become an F1 driver. In 1981, both champions met at the Austrian GP, and Fittipaldi introduced Senna to several team principals at the time.
“Since Ayrton was so shy, I accompanied him during the Austrian GP and said, ‘Ayrton, after the practice sessions I’ll introduce you to every F1 team’. Then I surprised him. I went up to everyone and said, ‘This is Ayrton Senna da Silva, future world champion’ and he got awkward.”
5- IndyCar test in 1992
An iconic story involving Emerson and Ayrton took place when both drivers tested a Penske Indycar in 1992, at the Firebird raceway (USA). Senna still hadn’t renewed with McLaren to race in 1993, and Fittipaldi took the chance to invite him to a test that became the stuff of legend in Roger Penske’s team. Senna TV told the full story and visited the place where the car driven by Ayrton Senna is currently stored.