The Lotus 69 used by Emerson Fittipaldi for his 1971 Formula Two season was at the Silverstone Classic Media Day a reminder that July’s event will feature Formula Three, Two and One cars in action.
The Brazilian Formula One’s World Champion’s Formula Two career is easily overlooked as at the same time we was making his mark in Formula One, but yet again his raw pace was on show. He made his European Formula Two debut at Thruxton in the Wills Trophy on March 30th 1970 in his Team Bardahl Lotus 69 with a 1600cc Cosworth BDA engine, coming fifth in his heat but not starting the final.
He scored his first points with a fifth at Hockenheim in April, and was third at Montjuic Park in Barcelona two weeks later, and took the same place at the daunting Rouen-les-Essarts circuit in the next round at the end of June, headed home by Jo Siffert and Clay Regazzoni, with Siffert ineligible for points being classed as a ‘Graded’ driver due to his experience. He made his Grand Prix debut on July 18th in a Lotus 49C and was eighth, although two laps behind winner and team-mate Jochen Rindt in the newer Lotus 72.
Fifth on the road at Enna-Pergusa in August saw him take the points for third as he trailed him the graded Jacky Ickx and Siffert. The season highlight was second on the road to eventual champion Regazzoni at Imola in September, and fifth as the series returned to Hockenheim for the season-closer saw the young Brazilian third in the final points table behind Regazzoni and Derek Bell.
In Formula One, the 23-year-old had to suddenly adopt the role of team-leader as Rindt was fatally injured at Monza, already with an unassailable points tally in the championship. He rose to the occasion with a his first win at the very next race, his first Grand Prix in the Lotus 72C (he had been due to race one at Monza but the team withdrew), at Watkins Glen in the US. The score plus a fourth in just his second race in the German GP at Hockenheim saw him tenth in the points having contested five of the 13 races.
For 1971 Fittipaldi was now a graded driver and thus unable to score Formula Two points, but took the yellow Lotus 69 to wins at Jarama and Crystal Palace in May that year and at Albi in September, somewhat making up for a Formula One season which only saw a best result of a second at the Austrian Grand Prix.
The car is currently raced in HSCC Formula Two events by Roger Bevan.