The charismatic Brazilian won his first ground-breaking world title in 1972 for Lotus, then followed it up two years later with a second, driving for McLaren. He later made a highly successful switch to the United States, which culminated in two victories in the prestigious Indianapolis 500.
Emerson took over as the No.1 driver for Team Lotus after the death of Jochen Rindt in 1970. His first world title two years later made him, at the time, the youngest champion in history at the age of 25. Despite driving a ageing Lotus 72D Ford-Cosworth, he had five wins, a second place and a fourth that season to complete a ten-year span in which the Lotus team won five world titles.
He won his second individual world title in 1974 with McLaren to provide them with the first of several constructor’s championships but, in 1976, he moved on again to form his own Brazilian-sponsored Copersucar team with his brother Wilson.
However Copersucar, renamed Fittipaldi in 1980, did not prove competitive and the team was disbanded after the 1982 season.
Emerson’s own active career in Formula One was now over, so in 1984 he joined the CART series in the United States and quickly won the hearts of American race fans. He continued his brilliant performance on the track, winning the CART championship in 1989 and the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993. He finally ended his 30-year racing career in 1996 after 36 career wins and 23 pole positions.
After retirement, he was able to concentrate on building his business interests. He acquired the TV rights for the Champ Car series in Brazil, continued his orange growing business and developed a retail and residential project in the heart of Miami’s financial district.
A founder member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, he has been very active in assisting the work of the Laureus Sport for Good supporting projects for underprivileged children in Brazil. He also has his own Fittipaldi Foundation, which helps impoverished young people.