Wilson Fittipaldi Jr., Formula One
Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. ran in Formula One between 1972-73 and 1975 David Phipps

SEATTLE - Brazilian and former Formula 1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. died this morning following a life-threatening emergency that happened during Christmas dinner. According to his wife, he chocked on a piece of meat as he was celebrating his 80th birthday. He suffered a lack of oxygen that was then followed by the cardiac arrest.

After being taken to the hospital, Fittipaldi was sedated and intubated. His wife added that he had a difficult post-surgical history of returning post-sedative, so they were taking it one day at a time, waiting for the former F1 driver to wake up. His wife Rita shared the news of his hospitalization via an Instagram post, detailing the circumstances leading to Fittipaldi's incubation.

He participated in 38 Formula One Grand Prix throughout the 1970s. With the help of his younger brother and two-time world champion Ederson Fittipaldi, they launched the first and only Brazilian Formula One team in 1974 known as Fittipaldi-Copersucar, which competed from 1975 to 1982.

His brother Emerson won two world titles in 1972 and 1974 with Lotus and McLaren, respectively, before switching to Fittipaldi-Copersucar during the 1976 season. The Brazilian team secured three podium finishes in 103 starts (no wins).

It is reported that Fittipaldi Jr.'s son, Christian Fittipaldi, was with him in the hospital. Just like his father, Christian was also a Formula 1 and NASCAR driver. He spent three years in F1 between 1992-94 but then later shifted his focus to the United States and NASCAR. Father and son competed and won the Mil Milhas Brasileiras race in 1994.

A pioneer of racing in Brazil, Wilson Fittipaldi and his family made huge strides in order to bring big racing events to São Paulo and Brazil. His dad was one of the co-founders of the Brazilian Automobile Confederation. In 1940, they founded the Interlagos Circuit in São Paulo, making the Brazilian city one of the hotspots of racing in the world and, ultimately, bringing a Grand Prix to Brazil in 1972.

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