Brazil can be proud of its Formula 1 history. Despite being a long way from the European heartland of the sport, Brazilian business and industry has seen the value of promoting itself through motor sport and has supported young drivers in the junior formulae in the European arena. F1 declined in popularity after the death of Ayrton Senna but has picked up as Rubens Barrichello and Pedro Diniz have become the focus of patriotic attention.
There has only ever been one Brazilian grand prix team and it ran from 1975 to 1979 under the name of "Copersucar," a Brazilian sugar marketing operation. Emerson Fittipaldi left McLaren to join the Sao Paulo-based team, which was set up by his brother and occasional F1 pilot, Wilson Fittipaldi. Did Emo regret it? "I spent some of the worst years of my life in those abominable yellow cars. It was the biggest mistake of my life!" Despite the big bucks from the sugar industry the cars were never sweet and their departure certainly did not leave a cavity big enough to need filling. Emerson went on to build a new career for himself, taking the Indy crown in 1989. Now retired, the man who put Brazil on the F1 map, has many business interests, including producing the Fittipaldi cigar brand.
"Wealthy people can no longer live in an island, surrounded by an ocean of poverty. We all breathe the same air." This comment from Ayrton Senna has been the guiding principle behind the Foundation set up in the late Brazilian champion's name. It is a couple of years since his death in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. In July of that year, the Senna Foundation was started under the Presidency of Ayrton's sister, Viviane Senna Lalli. Two months before the accident which took his life, Ayrton told his sister about his dream to establish an action plan to help his people, principally children and adolescents, whom he felt to be the main victims of an unfair economic system. Since then, the Foundation has helped tens of thousands of children, considered at risk. The programmes supported range from malnutrition and infant health care to academic and occupational education as well as sports and arts. Much of the funding comes from sales of licensed goods and memorabilia.