CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 3


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The third part of our series on F1 drivers who raced in Champ Car includes two-times Formula 1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi, whose American career included a CART title as well as two Indianapolis 500 victories.

His nephew Christian also raced in both series, as did Fabi brothers Corrado and Teo, and Jacques Villeneuve’s least favourite backmarker, Norberto Fontana..

Christian Danner

The first ever Formula 3000 champion, Danner got his F1 break in 1985 with Zakspeed and toured the F1 backmarkers visiting Osella in 1986, returning to Zakspeed in 1987, before moving onto Rial in 1989. He scored his best result in the final year with a fortunate fourth at Pheonix on a day when only seven cars were running at the end. He then made sporadic appearances in Champ Car from 1992-7.

Read more about Christian Danner: Christian Danner biography

Robert Doornbos

One of Red Bull’s many young drivers who got a brief chance in F1 before being hurriedly dropped. Doornbos tested for Jordan in 2004 and then landed a race seat at Minardi replacing Patrick Freisacher for the last eight races of 2005. He made three appearances for Red Bull in similar circumstances the next year, taking over from Christian Klien, but never got a full season’s racing.

For 2007 he was reunited with former Minardi boss Paul Stoddard at his new Champ Car team. Doornbos got into the fight for the championship with wins at San Jose and Mont Tremblant, but was left out in the cold when Champ Car merged into Indy Car this year, and is now looking for employment in the new Superleague Formula.

Corrado Fabi

Corrado Fabi and brother Teo operated an unusual drive-sharing arrangement in 1984, swapping seats at Brabham in F1 and Forsythe Racing in Champ Car. Ultimately it was Teo who had the longer career in both formulae.

Teo Fabi

The older Fabi’s F1 career began with Toleman in 1982 before he switched to Champ Cars the following year. He won four times for Forsythe and was runner-up to Al Unser in the championship after a late surge in the title race.

Following his unusual 1984 season he was back at Toleman in 1985 and gave the team its first pole position at the Nurburgring. It was taken over by Benetton for 1986, when Fabi usually found himself outclassed by new team mate Gerhard Berger. While Berger moved on to Ferrari Fabi remained at Benetton, now partnered by Thierry Boutsen, who also fared rather better.

Fabi switched back to Champ Cars for 1988 and the following year placed fourth in the championship for Porsche. But his win at Mid-Ohio that year proved his last and he retired from Champ Car in 1996 after 118 races.

Christian Fittipaldi

The nephews of Emerson Fittipaldi spent a decade in Champ Car after three years with little success in F1. He made his debut for Minardi in 1992 and the following year equalled the team’s best ever finish with fourth place at the season opener at Kyalami. He also escaped injury in a frightening accident at Monza where he hit team-mate Pierluigi Martini’s car and flipped.

After a Joyless year for Footwork in 1994 Fittipaldi turned to Champ Car where he had a lot of success but was also frustrated by injury. After finishing fifth in the 1996 championship he crashed heavily at the second race of the 1997 championship at Surfers’ Paradise but was an excellent fourth on his return at Portland.

His first win in the series followed in 1999 and he added another in 2000, before leaving Champ Car in 2002. He later raced in A1 Grand Prix and still competes in the American Le Mans Series.

Emerson Fittipaldi

One of the all-time greats: Fittipaldi won F1 championships, the Champ Car title and had two victories in the Indianapolis 500. He won his fourth Grand Prix for Lotus in 1970 following the death of team leader Jochen Rindt and scored his first championship for the team two years later.

After a switch to McLaren he was champion again in 1974, but a subsequent attempt to run a team with his brother from 1976 was met with failure. He left F1 in 1980 and four years later returned to racing in Champ Car.

Moving to Patrick Racing in 1985 he scored his first win at Michigan and four years later he clinched the title with five wins including his first victory in the Indy 500. In 1993 and 1994 he was championship runner-up with Penske but he claimed another Indy 500 win in 1993 – and outraged the established by spurning the traditional winner’s pint of milk in favour of a bottle of orange juice from his own farm.

After 144 F1 starts and 196 Champ Car races he finally retired in 1996 after being injured in a crash at Michigan (above). However he did later compete in the short-lived GP Masters series.

More about Emerson Fittipaldi: Emerson Fittipaldi biography

Gregor Foitek

Turned out for backmarkers Rial, Brabham and Onyx between 1989 and 1990, qualifying seven times from 22 attempts. Two Champ Car starts for AJ Foyt’s team brought little more.

Norberto Fontana

Best remembered by F1 fans for controversially delaying Jacques Villeneuve during the 1997 title decider, allegedly on the direct instructions of Ferrari team boss Jean Todt. That was his fourth and final F1 start for Sauber. Three years later he made eight starts in Champ Car, scoring a couple of points, and now races in the Argentine Touring Car Championship.


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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “CART drivers who raced in F1: From Andretti to Zanardi part 3”

  1. Just adding that Emerson Fittipaldi returned to racing in 2008, in the brazilian GT3 series (source:, with his brother Wilson Jr.

    In the same championship, there’s an unusual pairing: Walter Salles (yes, the famous brazilian director, whose latest movie, “Linha de Passe”, awarded Sandra Corveloni a Goldem Palm for best actress in Cannes last week, and whose “Central Station” received two Academy Awards Nominations in 1998) and Ricardo Rosset (yes, the official TOSSER)

  2. Fontana one of the drivers that didn’t have the chance to succed… he’s a hell of a driver

  3. wanted to mention you forgot Enge here, but then I realized he moved to IRL, not to Champ Car :-)

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