With excellent backing from his Brazilian sponsors, and the guidance of his father Wilson, himself a former Grand Prix driver, Christian earned himself the right to become a Formula 1 driver on talent alone. Sadly, his Grand Prix career was spent driving mediocre machinery, and he was unable to impress sufficiently to attract an offer from a front-line team and decided to pursue a career in CART. With a single season in South American F3 behind him, he came to Britain to race in the 1990 F3 championship. Taking the number two seat to Hakkinen in the crack West Surrey Racing team, Fittipaldi finished fourth in the final standings with just one win at Donington. Moving up to F3000 for 1991 with Pacific Racing, young Christian was certainly fortunate to be in a Reynard chassis, but he held to his conviction that consistency would count and, when he had to, could show the pack a clean pair of heels, as he proved at Jerez and Nogaro. The championship was his, and he thus became the third Grand Prix driver to emerge from this remarkable family. His first season with Minardi was interrupted when a practice crash at Magny Cours inflicted back injuries that put him out for a spell, but after a shaky return he bounced back in Japan to score his first championship point. Continuing with the underfinanced Minardi team in 1993, Fittipaldi started well but, with the car less and less competitive as the season progressed, the young Brazilian was stood down for the final two races to make room for the well-financed Gounon. Meanwhile Christian, his sponsors and advisers were busy trying to arrange a move to a bigger team for 1994. He moved a further rung up the Grand Prix ladder with Footwork, but was disappointed not to have made it into a better-funded team with more chance of success. The season started brightly and Christian was superb at Monaco with the neat Ford HB-engined car, qualifying sixth and running in fourth place, but things went downhill when the team became bogged down trying to implement the mid-season rule changes without the necessary resources. Frustrated by his lack of progress and impatient for success, Fittipaldi abandoned his Formula 1 career to join the Indy Car circuit in 1995. His season with Derrick Walker was naturally a learning one, and the high point was undoubtedly lasting the distance to claim second place in the Indianapolis 500. For 1996 Christian obtained a seat alongside Michael Andretti at Newman-Haas, and at last he had the opportunity to shine, looking particularly impressive in the wet at Detroit and Portland. His prospects were bright for 1997, but only two races into the season Christian suffered a badly broken leg in an accident at Surfers Paradise and did extremely well upon his return to pick up his previous pace. If Fittipaldi, who fitted comfortably into the Newman-Haas camp, thought a breakthrough was imminent he was to be disappointed in 1998, when minor problems often blunted the team's challenge. Christian has shown in the past that patience is a virtue and the 1999 season saw a much more complete driver. Not only did he win a CART race (at the 71st attempt, at Road America), but he looked a possible PPG Cup champion, having finished among the top ten in each of the first seven races. Unfortunately he suffered a nasty accident in testing and was forced to sit on the sidelines for five races, which scuppered his chances.