Under the watchful eye of compatriot, namesake and Ferrari Formula 1 title contender Felipe Massa, Felipe Guimarães stormed to his maiden rostrum finish in A1GP and Brazil's first of the 2008/09 campaign in the feature race at Kyalami – and then described it as 'a big boost' to his career.
Aged just 17 years and eleven months, Guimarães also overtook New Zealand ace Earl Bamber as the World Cup of Motorsport's youngest-ever podium finisher when he took the chequered flag as runner-up to defending series champions Neel Jani and Switzerland in South Africa on Sunday.
Indeed, a qualifying-ending crash the previous day – backing the silver car heftily into the barriers in the fourth-gear Esses – had cast doubt upon whether the teenage star would even be participating in the races at all, but with the team burning the midnight oil Guimarães was able to take the start of the sprint outing from 14th on the grid and the feature from eighth.
Though the former would yield no better than 15th place at the close, a determined performance in the longer feature event saw him make a bright start before maturely applying the pressure on Clivio Piccione ahead until the Monegasque driver made a mistake, lifting him up to second place. Though a late-race misfire threatened to dash his hopes, the former Brazilian National Karting Champion was able to hold on to seal a result that he could barely even have dreamed of.
“I thought 'oh no', but God must have been on my side,” admitted an emotional Guimarães, speaking to the official series website. “This result means so much to me, as A1GP is so very important and it turned around a weekend that had gone bad.
“I was really upset by the crash in qualifying, and now Emerson [Fittipaldi] is very happy with me. This result came at just the right time for me and will be a big lift both for me and for the team. It will be a big boost to my career.”
The result has elevated Brazil to 13th place in the nations' standings, to the evident delight of seat holder and former double F1 World Champion Fittipaldi.
“I am so happy,” the 62-year-old enthused. “Felipe proved that he is mentally very strong to be able to come back from that accident. The team deserves praise too for the fantastic job it did to repair the car, which was so good that up to his first pit-stop Felipe was lapping as fast as Jani, who went on to win the race.”