Career Summary:

Alex Ribeiro

  • November 07, 1948
  • 70
  • Brazil
  • Not Active
  • 104
  • March,Hesketh
  • 12
  • 32
  • 10
  • 6
  • 11.54%
  • 30.77%

Alex Ribeiro is a former racing driver from Brazil who recorded 20 entries (10 starts) in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1976 and 1979. Besides his short F1 career, he raced the most in Formula 2 and Formula 3, becoming a British F3 vice-champion two times. He was the Brazilian Formula Ford champion in 1973.

Alex Ribeiro 1977

Alex Ribeiro

Brazilian Formula Ford champion early in a career

Born in November 1948 in Belo Horizonte, Alexandre Dias Ribeiro started his racing career in the late 1960s, making his way through the junior open-wheel competitions. In 1972, he won two races in the Brazilian Formula Ford and finished second in the points.

Next year, he was much more successful, winning four races and taking the championship title ahead of 1972 champ Clovis de Moraes.

Two successful seasons in British Formula 3

In 1973, Ribeiro also made a debut in British Formula 3, then spending two full seasons in different British F3 Championships. In 1974, driving a GRD-Ford for Hollywood Racing Team, he was a vice-champion in the F3 British Lombard North Central championship and fifth in the F3 British BARC Forward Trust championship.

In 1975, he was a vice-champion again in the BARC F3 Championship, winning two races in a March-Toyota and losing a title to Swedish racer Gunnar Nilsson. Ribeiro also made a Formula 2 European Championship debut with March in the season's finale at the Autodromo Vallelunga.

Four podiums in the 1976 Formula 2 season

In 1976, Ribeiro joined March in the Formula 2 European Championship to drive a March 762-BMW. The highlight of the season was his pole position at Rouen but he scored no wins, recording four podiums.

He was second at Thruxton and Pergusa and third at Vallelunga and Estoril. At the end of the season, he was fifth in the points.

Formula One debut with Hesketh at 1976 US Grand Prix

After a pretty successful F2 season, which ended in September, Ribeiro made a Formula 1 debut in October. He joined Hesketh Racing to drive the #25 Hesketh 308D-Cosworth in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

He started 22nd on the grid and finished the race in the 12th place, two laps behind race winner James Hunt (McLaren).

Alex Ribeiro pictured in 1977

Alex Ribeiro pictured in 1977

Full Formula 1 season in 1977 with March

For the 1977 Formula 1 season, Ribeiro made a deal with March owner Max Mosley to pay for his seat in the #9 March-Cosworth, sponsored by the Brazilian bank Caixa Economica Federal and a tobacco company Souza Cruz.

Ribeiro started in the first four races (Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, US West) and recorded four DNFs. After that, he failed to qualify for six races in Europe and finally made a start in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. He finished in the 8th place, the last among drivers who didn't retire.

In the remaining six events, Ribeiro started in four races (Netherlands, US, Canada, Japan), finishing best in the eighth place at Mosport Park.

Alex Ribeiro, Jesus Saves Racing, 1978 Formula 2

Alex Ribeiro was recognizable by the words Jesus Saves on his cars

Racing with his own team in the 1978 Formula 2 season

After a disappointing F1 season, Ribeiro tried to save his reputation by entering the Formula 2 European Championship with his own team, running a March 782-Hart. He picked up two points with a sixth-place finish at Hockenheim and then surprisingly won the race at Nurburgring Nordschleife. In the rest of the season, he scored no points and finished 8th in the final classification.

His Formula 2 campaign was also marked by a car painted with the words Jesus Saves. Ribeiro was using 'Jesus Saves' declaration over his entire career but in 1978 it became the official name of his racing team.

Alex Ribeiro in the #19 Fittipaldi F6A-Cosworth

Alex Ribeiro in the #19 Fittipaldi F6A-Cosworth

Two more unsuccessful attempts in the 1979 F1 season

In 1979, the Jesus Saves Racing entered the British Formula Ford championship with Fernando Ribeiro, a younger brother of Alex, as a driver. Alex himself was invited to join Emerson Fittipaldi's Formula 1 team as the second driver in two F1 Championship events.

Ribeiro had the first start in a Fittipaldi F6A-Cosworth at non-championship Dino Ferrari Grand Prix at Imola, not finishing the race. After that, he travelled to North America to participate in the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal and the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Ribeiro failed to qualify for both races. With those two attempts, his career came to an end.

Alex Ribeiro (right) as a driver of the F1 Medical Car

Alex Ribeiro (right) as a driver of the F1 Medical Car

Weird accident with the Medical Car at 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix

Fernando Ribeiro later gained some success both in the UK and US while Alex Ribeiro didn't race again. He served as a pastor and wrote a few books. In 2002, he participated in the Brazilian Grand Prix as a driver of the Medical Car, being involved in a dangerous incident.

When Enrique Bernoldi crashed, Ribeiro went out to check on Bernoldi but he opened a door of the Medical Car in a moment when Nick Heidfeld came in his Sauber F1 car. Heidfeld's car smashed into an opened door but, fortunately, nobody was injured.