Double Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran believes analysis needs to take place to help Brazil gain future drivers in high echelons of motorsport.
This year is set to be the first season 1969 that Brazil does not to have a driver on the Formula 1 grid after Felipe Massa’s retirement, while Helio Castroneves has switched to sportscars from IndyCar with Penske.
Only Foyt’s line-up of rookie Matheus Leist and veteran Tony Kanaan gives the country a full-time place on the IndyCar grid, with Europe’s highest-placed driver currently Sergio Sette Camara in F2 with Carlin.
“The last all-Brazilian line-up must have been Helio and I at Penske,” de Ferran told Read Motorsport at the Autosport International show at Birmingham’s NEC, who spent four years as team-mates with Castroneves between 2000 and 2003.
“It’s an interesting one.
“I was actually talking to an influential friend of mine in Brazil, in the motorsports world, and feeling sad really in general because Massa’s retired, and it’s unlikely we will have a F1 driver next year, which is the first time in God knows how long.”
In comparison, nine compatriots joined de Ferran on the grid in the first race of his second Champ Car-winning season in 2001.
Despite some other potential talent further down the motorsport ladder, he believes that a downturn of multiple numbers is on the horizon.
“Helio has stopped [competing in all IndyCar races], once Tony goes, there will not be that many Brazilians, if any, in the top motorsport series globally,” he added.
“Given the legacy and history of Brazilian motorsports, it is a sad state of affairs, despite Matheus coming in.
“Can something be done about it?
“I don’t know what the solution is.
“It would be a shame if after literally decades of tradition, having some very prominent drivers both in Europe and North America, [for it] to disappear.
“Someone has to look back into what caused that success, how did that success emerge, try to understand very carefully the root causes of that success, and somehow try to replicate it in a 21st century guise because the landscape’s very different these days than half of the 20th century.”