Honda website
Honda website

AUGUST 5, 1996

Emerson Fittipaldi to retire?

RACING legend Emerson Fittipaldi - Formula 1 World Champion of 1972 and 1974, F1 team owner from 1975-81, Indianapolis 500 winner in 1989 and 1993 and Indycar champion of 1989 - looks set to retire from the sport, following his nasty crash at Michigan International Speedway eight days ago.

The Brazilian suffered a fractured vertebrae after hitting the wall backwards at around 220mph. He was air-lifted to hospital where he underwent a five-hour operation on Monday night.

"It looks like I'm not going to race again," Fittipaldi told a news conference when he left the hospital, "but I'm not 100 per cent sure. I need some reflection.

The 49-year-old has been driving this year for the Penske Hogan team and was rumored to be planning to stand down at the end of the year to make way for a young South American driver. The Penske Hogan operation is funded by the Latin American offshoot of Philip Morris. The most likely candidate for the drive is Gil de Ferran, who is looking for work following the announcement that Jim Hall is shutting down his team. Hall Racing's sponsor Pennzoil is moving to the Indy Racing League - the first major Indycar sponsor to move to the rival series.

De Ferran says he wants to be successful in America before trying his hand at Formula 1 racing and, although linked to both Stewart Grand Prix and TWR Arrows, he looks like he will be staying in America.