An exhibition at Oca do Ibirapuera presents remarkable moments from the last five decades of F1 in Brazil. In Interlagos, a sculpture with the bust of Ayrton Senna was designed by the idol’s family to thank the fans for the affection, while Emerson Fittipaldi will be honored for his achievements in the category.
With the 2022 World Championship already decided, won by Max Verstappen, from Red Bull, and again without a Brazilian on the grid, F1 will arrive in Brazil this weekend, betting on nostalgia to renew its connection with the public, precisely at the moment when this relationship turns 50 years old.
Stage of the São Paulo GP this Sunday (13), at 15:00 (Brasília time), the Interlagos Circuit was also the scene of the first race of the category in the country, in 1972.
Still with its old layout, 7,960 meters long, the track hosted a race that was not part of the official calendar, something common at the time, especially when a country was applying for a grand prize. It was like a feasibility test to host the event.
As it is a non-championship race, not all teams came to São Paulo. Ferrari, McLaren and Tyrrell, for example, were the biggest absences. As a result, only 12 pilots, including four Brazilians —the brothers Emerson and Wilson Fittipaldi, José Carlos Pace and Luiz Bueno—, signed up for the race, held on an unusual Thursday, March 30th.
Emerson took pole, but with five laps to go, he saw his car’s suspension break and victory fell in the lap of Argentine Carlos Reutemann. Swede Ronnie Peterson came in second, while Wilson closed the podium in third.
In the stands, not even the victory escaping the Brazilian’s hands at the end diminished the excitement of the more than 60 thousand present. A feature that would also be remarkable in the following decades.
In 1973, already with his 1972 title in his luggage — Brazil’s first in F1 and for which he will earn a tribute this weekend at the racetrack — Emerson lived the consecration of winning the first official Brazilian GP in history. The following year, he repeated the dose. And, in 1975, it was José Carlos Pace’s turn to win the stage. It was a decisive sequence to captivate the audience.
From there, Interlagos would be the stage for some of the most remarkable moments of Brazilians in the category, which helped to nurture the country’s passion for motorsport. After Fittipaldi and Pace, two other drivers from here also won at the racetrack, Ayrton Senna and Felipe Massa, the country’s last titleholder in the category and who said goodbye in 2017, starting the current hiatus.
The three-time champion climbed to the top of the podium for the first time in 1991, the year in which he won his third title, and also in 1993. This week, the idol won a bust measuring 3.5 m in height and weighing 550 kg, which will exposed in the area of the stands of sector A, on the main straight. The piece called “Our Senna” is made of aluminum and faceted and was designed by Lallali Senna, the pilot’s niece.
Massa won the 2006 and 2008 races, when he began a 14-year fast, which inevitably will not end this year due to the absence of Brazilians on the current grid.
Over the last 50 years, however, São Paulo has not been the only place to host the Brazilian GP. The Jacarepaguá racetrack, in Rio de Janeiro, also hosted the event ten times. It was there that three-time champion Nelson Piquet, who today faces legal problems for racist and homophobic statements, joined the select list of Brazilians with victory in the Brazilian stage.
Even with the importance of the period on the carioca track, Interlagos consolidated itself as the great stage of national motorsport. It hosted 37 stages as GP Brazil and one with its current name, GP São Paulo. It only missed a race that was scheduled on the calendar in 2020, because of the pandemic.
The brief hiatus was enough to raise the public’s expectation for the category’s return in 2021. The wait was rewarded with an exciting race, which ended with a tribute from the Englishman Lewis Hamilton to the Brazilians. After crossing the finish line in first place, he repeated a gesture that was marked by Ayrton Senna and paraded with the Brazilian flag.
With the triumph, the seven-time champion equaled the Argentinian Carlos Reutemann and the German Sebastian Vettel as the third winner most times in a stage in Brazil. Each has three victories.
Frenchman Alain Prost, with six podiums in first place, and German Michael Schumacher, with four, lead the ranking of the biggest winners of one of the most classic stages of the F1 world, on its 50th anniversary.
Exhibition “50 Years of GP in Brazil”
Place: Hollow in Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo
Date: October 18 to November 20 (Tuesday to Sunday)
Time: 10:00-21:00 (last group with entry at 20:00)
Price: free (Tuesday), R$50 (Wednesday to Sunday) and R$150 (on race weekends – right to watch a GP with a big screen and DJ); children under 5 years old are free and there is half price.