Gabriel Bortoleto became the latest Brazilian to achieve Championship-winning success in FIA Formula racing this year, winning the Formula 3 crown with Trident at Monza. It was during Qualifying that the 18-year-old clinched the title, sat in the pitlane but jubilant following his hard-earned achievement.
It echoed the title triumph of compatriot Felipe Drugovich, who 12 months prior also secured title success at Monza, winning the F2 Championship sat in the pitlane too. Both have become Champions in the Formula 1 pyramid, and both are flying the flag of Brazil proudly, so it comes as no surprise that the similarities don’t end there.
Reflecting on what Bortoleto achieved in 2023 in the wake of his own title, Drugovich says that the pair have been proudly flying the Brazilian colours in motorsport for years together.
“We’ve been great friends since we were little kids. We used to live probably a kilometre from each other in Italy up until this year, but we’re still quite close.
“He’s a very quick guy, personality-wise we’re similar, quiet and trying to learn as much as we can. I did well in the junior categories, Gabriel is doing amazing so hopefully there’s going to be even more drivers coming up like that.”
One of the first to congratulate Bortoleto on his Championship, Drugovich was in the pitlane amidst the scenes as the freshly-signed McLaren Development Programme driver secured F3 glory.
Fulfilling his own F1 duties that weekend, driving in Free Practice 1 for Aston Martin as part of his Development Driver role, Drugovich was finishing up a debrief when his compatriot was on the cusp of the F3 title. It was a moment he couldn’t miss.
“It was quite a cool weekend. I was doing the FP1 session, which was great, I’d just jumped out of the car, went to a debrief, was finishing that and just as that was happening, he was winning the title. So, I ran to the pitlane to celebrate with him.”
Getting to the point of becoming a Champion in the junior categories is a different challenge says Drugovich, making both his and Bortoleto’s achievements all the more impressive.
While there is plenty of history emanating from Brazil in terms of motor racing, drivers all make the move to Europe at the beginnings of their careers, leaving behind family and friends in pursuit of their dreams.
Having done all of that, climbed the ranks and finally achieved a Championship on the cusp of Formula 1, Drugovich says that it’s a huge point of pride for them both and the country.
READ MORE: Gabriel Bortoleto: The road to Formula 3 title glory
“Motorsport is mostly dominated by Europe and when you have someone from South America, it does mean something else. It’s not like you go to school then you go to race and then see your family at the weekend like any other European driver. You have to cross the world and not see your family so much, so it’s quite a bit more difficult when you’re not from Europe. It’s something that I think gives us a lot of satisfaction for Brazilians.”
The duo is the latest in a long lineage of Brazilian motorsport success. From racing royalty to new-wave heroes, Drugovich says he hopes their recent titles can inspire the next generation of Brazilian racing hopefuls.
“Motorsport is getting even more popular in Brazil. There are a lot of young people following us which is mega. There’s a lot of new people watching Formula 1 and that’s great and you can see the engagement in F2 and F3 on social media as well. There’s a lot of positives, the fansare young and there’s a big fan base in Brazil coming up.”
There are more echoes of similarity between the pair. Both were snapped up by F1 junior driver programmes in the wake of their titles, Drugovich with Aston Martin and Bortoleto with McLaren.
It is a hugely exciting prospect for them and another step towards their ultimate goal, a more than deserved reward for their efforts to this point. Alongside a generation of fans coming into racing, particularly of the younger generation, the future looks very bright in Brazil once again.