DRIVERS: CHICO SERRA

Name: Chico Serra
Nationality: Brazil
Date of birth: February 3, 1957 - Sao Paulo

Francisco Adolpho Serra was born and brought up in Sau Paolo, Brazil. After a successful career in karting he followed the path to Britain chosen by many Brazilians in the wake of Emerson Fittipaldi's successes in F1 in the early 1970s. Inspired by Fittipaldi, the well-funded Serra made his name in British Formula Ford 1600 racing in 1977 driving for emerging manufacturer Van Diemen. His success - and a good budget from Sadia - propelled him into a drive with Ron Dennis's Project 4 team in British Formula 3 in 1978. "Chico" won several races that year but a big accident in August at Mallory Park left him with a severe concussion and he was beaten to the two British titles by Nelson Piquet and Derek Warwick. Quiet and unassuming, Serra decided to stay in Formula 3 in 1979 and won the title with five wins in his Sadia-sponsored Project 4 March-Toyota.

He graduated to Formula 2 the following season with Ron Dennis's team, driving a semi-works March-BMW 802. He finished fourth on three occasions and was 10th in the European Championship.

Rather than stay in F2 as a major championship contender in 1981, Serra was signed by Fittipaldi Automotive to partner Keke Rosberg in the Fittipaldi F1 team. The premature graduation was necessary because the team's sponsor, Skol, wanted a Brazilian to replace Fittipaldi who had decided to retire from driving. Serra finished ninth in the non-championship South African GP in an updated 1980 Fittipaldi F8 and went on to finish seventh in Long Beach but failed to qualify eight times.

At the end of the year Skol withdrew its backing and Rosberg moved to Williams, leaving Serra at the team's only driver in 1982. He scored a point for sixth place at the Belgian GP with an old F8D but the new F9 was not a competitive car and failed to qualify in three of the last six races. The team closed down at the end of the year and the 25-year-old Serra went back to Brazil. He briefly paid for a drive with Arrows in 1983 but he was by then overshadowed by Piquet's success in F1 and when Thierry Boutsen arrived with more money for Arrows, Serra was dropped.

He returned to Brazil where he began racing in the local touring car championships. He was the Brazilian National Stock Car Champion of 1999, 2000 and 2001.

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