Record updated 10-Mar-08
Alex Ribeiro is a former Formula One driver from Brazil. He participated in 20 grands prix, debuting on October 10, 1976. A very religious man, he enjoyed a long career in touring cars back in his native Brazil and even drove in the 1992 SudAm F3 championship, driving a Ralt RT33 with Jesus Saves prominently displayed on the car.
The 1973 Brazilian Formula Ford champion with five wins from seven starts, Alex then headed for Europe and an excellent first season in F3 with a works GRD, winning three rounds. His career continued its upward trend with a factory F3 March in 1975, which led to a full season for the team in Formula 2 in 1976. Arnoux and the Elf Martini team were the class of the field but Alex was usually the best of the rest. He hired a Hesketh and made a steady F1 debut in the US GP at the Glen, taking the 308D to a steady 12th.
He joined the factory March team on a "rent a drive" deal in 1977. But plugging along in an updated 761, the 771 being terribly late and only then given to Ian Scheckter, was too much to take for the 1973 Brazilian Formula Ford champ, a string of six non-qualifications taking a big chunk out of his season. It was to be a disastrous campaign, with drivers and management blaming each other for the cars' disappointing performances.
A very religious man, Ribeiro held an evangelical belief untypical of catholic Brazil but just as his late great countryman Ayrton Senna, he did share a mythical view on divine intervention and providence, especially for the sportsman. Back in Formula 2 in 1978 with his own 'Jesus Saves Racing' March 782, Alex initially showed he had lost none of his talent with a brilliant win at the Nurburgring, but gradually his season tailed off and the little team lost heart.
In 1979 Ribeiro reappeared with Fittipaldi at the non-championship Dino Ferrari GP, but retired early on. He was later invited to drive for the team in the end-of-season North American races, but failed to qualify the car on both occasions.
Alex subsequently enjoyed a long career in touring cars back in his native Brazil and was a surprise contender in the 1992 SudAm F3 championship, driving a Ralt RT33 with Jesus Saves still prominently displayed on his car.
In 1999 he returned to the Formula 1 scene driving the official medical car at World Championship Grands Prix, although he blotted his copybook by crashing it prior to a practice session at the 2000 Monaco Grand Prix, leaving his passenger, FIA medical delegate Professor Sid Watkins, with three broken ribs.
At the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix, Ribeiro was almost killed. During the morning warm-up on race day Sunday, Enrique Bernoldi crashed his Arrows in Turn 2, next to the medical car Ribeiro was driving. When Ribeiro went out to check on Bernoldi, he opened the door just as Nick Heidfeld came along in his Sauber. Heidfeld smashed into the open door but thankfully, both Ribeiro and Heidfeld were uninjured. He has since given up the role.