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A Ferrari Formula 1 car during the São Paulo Grand Prix 2022
A Ferrari Formula 1 car during the São Paulo Grand Prix 2022
Photo by Valentine Boutsiavaras
Culture > Entertainment

Get to know 5 Brazilian rising stars in world motorsport

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Start and finish year after year and all the passionate Brazilian fans of motorsport keep wondering when the country will have another chance in Formula One. But motorsport not only involves F1, there are a lot of categories that have a lot of drivers from Brazil on the road to them. If you miss the Brazilian flag at Formula 1, you should try to watch other categories with some talented drivers in it and cheer for them.

Felipe Drugovich

The last time Brazil saw a Brazilian on the Formula 1 grid was in 2017 with Felipe Massa. However, in 2022, another driver emerged with the potential to see the green and yellow flag on the F1 racing suit: Felipe Drugovich.

The passion for motorsport emerged from his family, Felipe was not the first to use the surname at the racetracks, his uncle, Oswaldo Drugovich Jr., is two-time champion of Formula Truck – in 1997 and 1998.

His career started in 2008, when he was only 8 years old, in Brazilian karting, in that same year he became the champion in the Cadete category. He competed in Brazil until 2012, and then, in 2015 he moved to Europe to start racing internationally, first in karting and then in formula cars. 

From those years, Felipe increasingly stood out in motorsports worldwide. In 2017, he finished third in the ADAC German Formula 4 Championship and also had the opportunity to participate in two rounds with Formula 3 cars: the final round of the FIA F3 and the Euroformula Open.

Unfortunately, the Formula 3 championship was not what Drugovich dreamed about. Struggling since the beginning of the season, Felipe could not adjust to the car and find the right setup. As hard as it was, he managed to be ahead of his teammate at Carlin Buzz Racing and secure a chair in Formula 2.

And then, the year that Brazilians who love motorsport would turn on the TV really early in the morning or even through the night to watch Formula 2, just to watch a talented young boy again. After a dominant year, he won the Formula 2 Championship in style. It was the Sprint race in Monza. Felipe got knocked out of the race at the start. And, from the pit-lane, he became world champion one race before the season was over.

On the same weekend that he won the world championship he was announced as the reserve and development driver of Aston Martin Formula One, being the first on the British team. However, for the 2023 season, he did not get a seat in F1.

After a complete season missing Drugovich on the track, for 2024 he joined the European Le Mans Championship for Vector. The first race has already happened in Barcelona on the weekend of April 14th. 

Enzo Fittipaldi

After Felipe Drugovich showed fans worldwide that the Brazilian young drivers are strong competitors, supporters from Brazil yearn to see more victories and hear the national anthem more often atop the podium. With two Brazilians in Formula 2, it’s natural that the pressure on those racing under the green and yellow flag is intense.

Unlike other drivers who started in Brazilian karting, “Tubarãozinho” – Enzo’s nickname given by fans – began competing in karts in the United States at the age of four. Access to American kart tracks was easier for the driver because he was born in Miami, USA, although he races under the Brazilian flag. After staying at karting until 2015, in the next year, Tubarãozinho raced three weekends at Formula 4 ADAC, showing already his talent by getting P3 in Nurburgring, at that time Enzo impressed Ferrari and got announced as one of the drivers in their academy.

It was in the 2017 season that Enzo went to Europe to fight at the Italian Formula 4, the most competitive F4 category in the world, and in his first year, he only got ninth place. However, everything changed in 2018, with seven wins and four podium finishes, nine pole positions, and five fastest laps, Enzo Fittipaldi dominated the category and clinched the Italian Formula 4 championship title.

The following year, Fittipaldi continued to showcase his talent and speed on the tracks by becoming the runner-up in the Formula Regional European Championship, with two wins, eleven podium finishes, two pole positions, and five fastest laps. 

With his good results in the categories, Enzo moved up to Formula 3 for the years 2020 and 2021. Although he didn’t win any races during the two years, he managed to finish in the top 5 in his debut year and secured a podium in his second year in the category.

Enzo’s Formula 2 career was about to begin in November 2021, but in his first race with the car at Monza, he was involved in an accident with another driver that caused him to break his right ankle, preventing him from racing in the subsequent rounds. Right in 2022, Tubarãozinho could return to the track and achieve five podium finishes with a team that was considered mid-pack.

The 2023 season began with a career change for Enzo, as he joined the Red Bull Junior Team Drivers. The team, which had dominated the 2022 season and propelled Max Verstappen to the Formula 1 World Championship trophy, brought yet another chance to see Brazil in Formula 1.

And now, 2024 has started well for our “Tubarãozinho”, with the Brazilian national anthem echoing through the speakers at the podium of the second Formula 2 race in Saudi Arabia. After three rounds of the championship this year, Enzo finds himself in sixth place overall. Despite the season being highly competitive, the better his performance, as he has already been doing, the greater the chance of seeing a Brazilian flag racing in the most fiercely contested motorsport category in the world.

Gabriel Bortoleto

Becoming the Formula 3 champion is not easy. Becoming the Formula 3 champion as a rookie at 18 years old is even harder. But Gabriel Bortoleto made it seem that it was an easy task in his routine. The task of giving Brazilian fans hope for another driver from the country reaching Formula 1 was a piece of cake for Bortoleto.

Just like every other kid who wants to pursue a career in motorsport, Bortoleto started at karting. In almost every category that he was racing to, he was dominating; already in 2012 he became champion of the Brazilian Open Karting (Open do Brasileiro de kart) and second-place finisher of the Brazilian and São Paulo championship of karting

However, Gabriel truly began to stand out on a global scale when he moved to Europe, reaching his peak by finishing 3rd in the World Karting Championship in 2018. With early success in his racing career on the global stage at just 15 years old, representing the Brazilian KTF Sports Academy, Bortoleto made his debut in formula cars in the Italian Formula 4 Championship. In his very first race, he secured a victory.

Trying to achieve the dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver, Bortoleto started on the categories that prepare you. In 2021 he started in FRECA, making a good experience for his career. And in 2022 he joined the Asian Formula 3, already winning at the first race of the season; he ended his year with two wins and one pole position. At the end of 2022, Bortoleto was invited to join the management team of Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso.

Following the natural cycle of racing, in 2023 Gabriel entered Formula 3 and did a spectacular season full of dominance from the first to the last race of the season. Therefore with his excellent results in the category, Bortoleto won a seat on the Formula 2 grid and was invited to join the Development Drivers Program at McLaren.

Unfortunately, this year Gabriel is not able to show his full potential. Out of two races this year, Gabriel missed out on the Saudi Arabia round after his car broke down right at the start.

Despite the difficulties, Bortoleto comes with good career management and talent is not lacking in the young man. After brilliant victories and championships, Brazil has another chance to see the Brazilian flag displayed on a Formula 1 racing suit worn by Gabriel.

Aurelia Nobels

Since Lella Lombardi, it’s been 48 years since a woman has been seen on the Formula 1 grid, and the sport is increasingly fighting for these prejudices to be changed. A female driver racing under the Brazilian flag has taken a step towards attempting to end this intolerance: Aurélia Nobels.

Born in Boston, USA, and a resident of Brazil since childhood, Aurélia fell in love with motorsport because of her father, who was always a fan of the sport and collected items such as products from his idol Ayrton Senna. Her journey began when, at the age of 10, her father gave her her first kart, which sparked her desire to pursue a career in motorsport.

In 2022, the first season of the Brazilian Formula 4 took place, and at 15 years old, Aurélia was the only woman competing on the category’s grid. That same year, the FIA Girls on Track – Rising Star event occurred, organized by the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) in partnership with Ferrari, aiming to select a new rising female driver in motorsport. As a prize, she joined the Ferrari Driver Academy and Prema Racing to compete in the Italian Formula 4.

Now in 2024, the 17-year-old is one of the 15 women on the F1 Academy grid, a female development category in motorsport. Despite Nobels being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, in the F1 Academy, she does not race under the colors of the Italian team but instead under the colors of Puma, the category’s sponsor, and specifically, Aurélia’s sponsor.

With each category, the public sees more and more of Aurélia’s potential and the possibility of having a woman on the Formula 1 grid in the future, competing for victories and podiums against male drivers, which is one of the Brazilian’s dreams.

Nicolas Giaffone

Racetracks. The smell of gas. Tyres burning. All of that has been in Nicolas’s life since he was a child. Passing through the generations of Giaffones since the 1980s, with your grandfather – Zeca Giaffone, being the Stock Car champion in 1987, and your father, Felipe Giaffone, having competed in Formula Indy and becoming the Formula Truck champion in 2023, speed was naturally in Nic’s blood.

From his years in karting, Nic’s connection to motorsports only grew stronger over time, and he soon couldn’t see himself as anything other than a racing driver. Nic’s career began in 2012 when he was only 8 years old. During the ten years he spent in karting, Nic won the South American Karting Championship in 2018 and became the runner-up in the Brazilian Karting Championship in the same year and the following year.

With the Brazilian Formula 4 category being inaugurated in 2022, it was Nic’s chance to transition to formula cars. His season was one of the most remarkable, with three victories and three podium finishes; Giaffone ended the season in fifth place. However, unlike most of the 2022 Brazilian F4 grid, Nic did not have European championships in mind.

As someone who has always admired IndyCar racing, Nicolas soon found himself heading to the United States to compete in the USF Junior series, the entry-level category of the Road to Indy program. Simply stating that Nic was a rookie champion in the category does not do justice to his performance; with six victories, five poles, and eleven podiums, he dominated the series.

And now, Nic has gone one category up and is competing in the USF2000. The first round of the championship took place in early March in St. Petersburg and everything looked promising for Nic to start the championship in the top positions.

However, after taking the lead, he ended up missing a corner, costing him a possible victory. There’s still the whole championship ahead, and there’s a chance for Giaffone to take the championship lead and take another Brazilian into another category in world motorsport.


The article above was edited by Giulia.

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Julia Fratti

Casper Libero '26

Just a brazilian journalist student writing about obsessions. Passionate about anything motorsport related and good romance books. <3