Question: What does life in the Amazon rain forest have in common with life as part of an endurance racing team? “Both systems only work if everything is in harmony,” explains Felipe Nasr. “It’s all about mutual respect, a positive awareness of dependencies, and a sense of community at all times.”
Luiz Felipe de Oliveira Nasr was born in the Brazilian capital Brasília as the only son of Samir and Eliane on August 21, 1992. He has an older sister, Flavia. “We enjoyed a carefree childhood,” says a grateful Nasr, who is now a Porsche works driver. He spent much of his childhood at racetracks as his father and his father’s brother Amir, sons of a Lebanese immigrant, ran a motorsport team. Felipe climbed into a kart for the first time at the age of eight. “I wasn’t under any pressure; I was just having fun,” he reminisces. He went on to win karting championships and junior formula series.
In 2009, he moved to Italy. His uncle Amir stayed with him for two months, but after that the 16-year-old was on his own. “I was lonely,” admits Nasr, “but I dreamed of competing in Formula 1.” His dream came true in 2014. He first served as a reserve driver with the Williams team, then drove for Sauber for two years. He had a fantastic debut with Sauber, coming fifth in the first race of the season in Melbourne – the best debut any Brazilian has ever achieved in the elite class of motorsport. When the team was sold, Nasr had to look around for an alternative option in 2017. “That was a painful low point,” he admits, “but in retrospect it was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Nasr returned to the other side of the Atlantic to engage in sports car racing. He wasn’t familiar with the IMSA series racetracks but still succeeded in clinching the title in his first full season in 2018. He subsequently also finished in second place overall in 2019 and was crowned champion again in 2021. By then, he had been on Porsche Motorsport’s radar for some time and, in summer 2021, they had a secret meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I didn’t have to think about it for long – having the opportunity to compete for this brand is a huge gift.”
Felipe Nasr wins on his first outing
He thanked Porsche Motorsport in his own way – with a win on his first outing for them. In January 2022, he won the GTD PRO class of the 24 Hours of Daytona in a Porsche 911 GT3 R together with the Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet and the Australian Matt Campbell. “It was just like in a fairy tale!” The race car driver, who is 1.74 meters tall, raises his arms to the skies while he talks and his brown eyes sparkle as he ruffles his black hair. “We achieved this together – us three drivers and the entire team. This kind of success only comes if everyone gives it their all.”
His career is littered with successes – but as far as Nasr is concerned, his career has only just begun. Using the new Porsche 963 LMDh race car, he intends to score wins in other major endurance races, compete for titles, and deliver the best-possible performance together with the team. He also wishes to strike a good balance. He taught himself to play the guitar in 2018 and songs by the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, and Eric Clapton feature high on the 30-year-old’s list of personal favorites. The only things he loves more are his family and his home city Brasília, which he has since returned to. With the help of his sister Flavia, who is a successful architect, he built his own home on their parents’ land. “I’m a family guy through and through. Flavia and her little daughter Helena, our parents, uncle, aunt, and cousins – we’re a very lively team!”
Regular travels to the Amazonia region
A team that never loses sight of what really matters. This is important to Felipe Nasr. Which is why he regularly travels to the Amazonia region. There’s no cell phone reception or Internet there, just pure nature – and he spends his days there outside of his comfort zone. Out there in the wilderness, he sits in a dinghy, marvels at the flora and fauna, and goes fishing. He doesn’t eat the fish he catches; he simply observes them. “Fish stock observation is important – we have to do something to stop species extinction.” He allows the animals to gently slide back into the river. “They’re part of their own community there; it’s where they belong.”
The international driver lineup
Success founded on experience: the two Porsche 963 vehicles competing in the 11 IMSA races are likely to be driven by Dane Cameron (34, USA), Matt Campbell (27, Australia), Mathieu Jaminet (28, France), and Felipe Nasr (30, Brazil). At the editorial deadline, the drivers chosen for the WEC were as follows: Michael Christensen (32, Denmark), Kévin Estre (34, France), André Lotterer (41, Germany), and Laurens Vanthoor (31, Belgium). Porsche will announce two more drivers and the cockpit combinations in early December at the Night of Champions. Teams of three are standard in the WEC, while two drivers share the cockpit in IMSA races. These will be assisted by a third driver at Road Atlanta (“Petit Le Mans,” 10 hours), in Sebring (12 hours), and in Daytona (24 hours).
Text first published in the Porsche magazine Christophorus, No. 405.
Author: Heike Hientzsch
Photos: Luisa Dörr
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