Even though they come from different generations of Brazilian motor sports, Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi drove together in F1 for a few days. It took place in January 1984 at the Jacarepaguá speedway, in Rio de Janeiro. While Senna conducted his first tests with Toleman before his F1 debut, the two-time world champion had been invited by Spirit, which also used Hart engines, to help the team develop the car.
Senna already stood out in the first few sessions of the open tests, despite having an inferior car to those of renowned drivers such as Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet.
Fittipaldi was in a very different point of his career. He would only go back to F1 – after winning the 1972 and 1974 titles – if he considered the car competitive enough for the 1984 season. Since the machine broke down repeatedly in Rio de Janeiro the driver decided to move to the US, where he would go on to make IndyCar – CART history.
Even though he didn’t stay in F1 in 1984, Fittipaldi made a point to recall his moments beside Ayrton Senna in his social media profiles.
“I was invited by Spirit-Hart to take part in the training sessions at Jacarepaguá in January 1984. Next to me, a rookie called Ayrton Senna, newly signed by Toleman-Hart. Back then, we were staying at the same hotel and went out to dinner every day. Those were moments filled with friendship and laughter”, wrote Emerson.
Fittipaldi`s car had an intriguing detail: a drawing of Mickey Mouse, the Disney character. The team was being sponsored by Mondadori, the Italian company responsible for distributing Mickey’s comics throughout Europe. The arrangement was made by Fittipaldi`s teammate during the tests, Italian driver Fulvio Ballabio, who also decided not to stay with the team.
Take a look at the TV Globo newscast (in Portuguese) about the F1 pre-season tests in 1984: