Motor racing-Former F1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi dies aged 80

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Former Formula One driver Wilson Fittipaldi Jr., older brother of Brazil's double world champion Emerson, died on Friday at the age of 80 after choking on a piece of meat and suffering a cardiac arrest on Christmas Day.

His death was announced by the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA), which said in a statement that Fittipaldi Jr. "passed away peacefully and surrounded by love".

He participated in 38 Formula One Grands Prix in the 1970s driving initially for Brabham and then for Fittipaldi-Copersucar, the first and only Brazilian Formula One team, which he set up along with his brother.

"He brought together talent, vision of the future and boldness to take Brazil's name to a level never before imagined as part of a project that was certainly ahead of its time," CBA head Giovanni Guerra said.

Emerson won his titles in 1972 and 1974 with Lotus and McLaren, respectively, before switching to Fittipaldi-Copersucar in 1976. The project secured three podium finishes in 103 starts without a win.

Fittipaldi Jr. is survived by son Christian, who also raced in Formula One in the early 1990s.

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Eduardo Simoes; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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