SAO PAULO • Brazilian Formula One (F1) great Emerson Fittipaldi is drowning in millions of dollars of debt, leading to the seizure of properties including some of his old race cars, according to media reports.
Fittipaldi, a two-time winner of both the F1 world championship and the Indianapolis 500, has racked up 27 million Brazilian reals (S$9.95 million) in debts and is facing more than 60 lawsuits in the Brazilian courts, TV Record reported on Tuesday.
His creditors include banks, contractors and the owner of a gas station, who said the 69-year-old driver has an unpaid tab of more than US$16,000 (S$21,700).
In a statement released by his publicists, Fittipaldi said he "never hid his financial difficulties and has always been ready to negotiate with his creditors".
He said his debts were smaller than his total wealth and that his money troubles "are the result of the unstable financial and political climate that all of Brazil is facing".
Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, is mired in a deep recession and a political crisis triggered by a huge corruption scandal and moves to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.
Fittipaldi's financial situation reportedly took a hit when he promoted the Brazilian stage of the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2012 to 2014 - a debt-laden gig, a close associate told newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo.
When the championship pulled out of Brazil last year because of his financial troubles, his creditors took him to court. Last week, the courts seized the driver's cars from the 1976-1977 F1 season and his 1989 Indy 500 victory.