Norberto Fontana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Norberto Fontana
Born (1975-01-20) 20 January 1975 (age 39)
Arrecifes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Formula One World Championship career
Nationality Argentina Argentinian
Active years 1997
Teams Sauber
Races 4
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1997 French Grand Prix
Last race 1997 European Grand Prix

Norberto Edgardo Fontana (born 20 January 1975 in Arrecifes, Buenos Aires Province) is an Argentine racing driver. He participated in four Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 29 June 1997 but scoring no championship points.

His opportunity to race came as a result of two separate injuries sustained by regular Sauber driver Gianni Morbidelli during the 1997 season. During the 1997 European Grand Prix, Fontana had gained attention for apparently blocking Jacques Villeneuve to let rival Michael Schumacher pull away from the Canadian. He attempted to enter with the Tyrrell team for 1998 but was dropped in favour for Brazilian Ricardo Rosset and with Minardi for 2000. In between his time in F1, Fontana raced in Formula Nippon.

Early career[edit]

Fontana was born in Arrecifies, Buenos Aires as the son of Hector and Clara Fontana. He started racing at the age of 8 at the Summer Night Championship in Lujan. In 1989, he began a full season of karting and finished 2nd in the Youth Kart Championship of Buenos Aires Province. The following year, Fontana progressed to a higher level of championship and finished 4th. In 1992, he moved into car racing and competed in the Formula Renault Argentina series before moving into the European series events in 1993.[1]

Fontana raced in the German Formula Three Championship series in 1994 and 1995, winning the 1995 title as well as that year's Marlboro Masters event at Zandvoort circuit.[2] He claimed the title ahead of drivers including Ralf Schumacher, Alexander Wurz, Jarno Trulli and Jan Magnussen.[citation needed]

In 1996, Fontana entered Formula Nippon for the Nova Engineering team driving a Lola T96/51 Mugen. His highlights were finishing 2nd twice in Fuji in a season that included multiple accidents, mechanical failures and poor results. For 1997, he drove for the Le Mans team in their Reynard 97D Mugen. The season started badly but made a comeback to finish 5th in Fuji, a win at Mine and 3rd in Motegi.[1]

Formula One[edit]

Fontana joined the Sauber test team in 1995 when Peter Sauber approached him for a test session that took place at Barcelona in late 1994. He retained this role thoroughout 1995 and 1996.[1]

1997[edit]

Fontana made his Formula One debut at the 1997 French Grand Prix replacing Gianni Morbidelli who had broken his arm prior to the race. He qualified 20th and retired when he understeered and ended up in a gravel trap. Prior to the British GP, team principal Peter Sauber look for replacements to take Fontana's seat but eventually decided to keep Fontana on board. During qualifying, he missed a red light indicating that the car must come in for a mandatory weight check. Fontana drove past the light and was forced to start at the back of the grid. In the race, Fontana finished 9th despite his right leg becoming numb. At Hockenheim, he started 18th and finished 9th despite spinning early on.[3]

At the 1997 European Grand Prix in Jerez, Fontana received a $5,000 fine for speeding in the pitlane and eventually qualified 18th. During the race, Fontana appeared to block Jacques Villeneuve, who was the direct rival of Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher at the time. ITV commentator Martin Brundle pointed out that the Sauber team used Ferrari engines at the time. Fontana eventually finished 14th with his highlight being overtaking Jos Verstappen with two wheels on the grass.[3]

In a 2006 interview for Argentinian magazine Olé, Fontana claimed that Jean Todt visited the Sauber motorhome during the weekend, and told Peter Sauber that the Saubers must block if they were in a position to do so in order to help Michael Schumacher win the World Championship. This was subsequently denied by both Sauber and Todt. Peter Sauber told Swiss newspaper Blick: "In the nine years that we co-operated, Ferrari never expressed the desire that we should obstruct an opponent of Schumacher's on the track."

Attempted comebacks[edit]

Fontana was considered as a driver for the dying Tyrrell team for 1998 with team principal Ken Tyrrell negotiating with the Argentine. Fontana signed a draft contract, but did not sign the final contract as the owners British American Tobacco had vetoed the suggestion and Tyrrell was forced to sign Brazilian Ricardo Rosset who had more sponsorship brought to the team. In 1999, Fontana tested with Minardi for a seat that would partner Marc Gené. However, sponsorship once again caused the Argentine to lose the seat for a possible comeback.[3]

Post-Formula One[edit]

Fontana decided to return to Formula Nippon and finished 4th in the series which included a win in Fuji. He also competed in the Japanese GT Championship and was paired with Masanori Sekiya. The pair finished 6th in Suzuka, 3rd at Sendai and Motegi. The pair finished 7th in the championship.[4]

Touring car racing[edit]

Norberto Fontana driving a Toyota Corolla touring car during a TC 2000 race at the Curitiba circuit in 2006.

He subsequently moved into Argentine touring car racing, driving in the Turismo Carretera,. TC2000 and Top Race V6. In the TC2000 he was seventh in 2001, champion in 2002, third in 2003, seventh in 2006, eighth in 2008, fourth in 2009 and champion again in 2010. Until 2009 he drove for Toyota, given the relationship he had with the brand when he raced in Japan. Since 2010 he drives a works Ford. Fontana also competed at the 2011 Dakar Rally in a buggy.

Racing record[edit]

Complete International Formula 3000 results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 DC Points
1996 Edenbridge Racing NÜR PAU PER HOC SIL SPA MAG EST
Ret
MUG HOC NC 0
1999 Fortec Motorsport IMO
Ret
MON
5
CAT
Ret
MAG
Ret
SIL
5
A1R
8
HOC
Ret
HUN
Ret
SPA
14
NÜR
10
15th 4
2001 F3000 Prost Junior Team INT IMO CAT A1R MON NÜR MAG SIL HOC HUN
14
SPA
Ret
MNZ
Ret
32nd 0

Complete Formula One results[edit]

(key)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1997 Red Bull Sauber Petronas Sauber C16 Petronas V10 AUS BRA ARG SMR MON ESP CAN FRA
Ret
GBR
9
GER
9
HUN BEL ITA AUT LUX JPN EUR
14
NC 0

American Open Wheel[edit]

(key)

CART[edit]

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Rank Points
2000 Della Penna United States
MIA
15
United States
LBH
Ret
Brazil
RIO
Ret
Japan
MOT
DNS
United States
NZR
Ret
United States
MIL
Wth
United States
DET
Ret
United States
POR
Ret
United States
CLE
11
Canada
TOR
Ret
United States
MIS
United States
CHI
United States
MDO
United States
ROA
Canada
VAN
United States
LS
United States
STL
United States
HOU
Australia
SRF
United States
FON
28th 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Noberto Fontana - Before Formula One". F1 Rejects. 
  2. ^ "August 1995 Data". Teamdan.com. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  3. ^ a b c "Noberto Fontana - Formula One". F1 Rejects. 
  4. ^ "Norberto Fontana - After Formula One". F1 Rejects. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gareth Rees
Formula Three Masters
Winner

1995
Succeeded by
Kurt Mollekens
Preceded by
Jörg Müller
German Formula Three champion
1995
Succeeded by
Jarno Trulli
Preceded by
Gabriel Ponce de León
TC2000 champion
2002
Succeeded by
Gabriel Ponce de León
Preceded by
Juan Manuel Silva
Turismo Carretera champion
2006
Succeeded by
Christian Ledesma
Preceded by
José María López
Anthony Reid
Winner of the 200 km de Buenos Aires
2009
(with Ricardo Mauricio)
Succeeded by
Bernardo Llaver
Mauro Giallombardo
Preceded by
José María López
TC 2000 Championship
Champion

2010
Succeeded by
Matías Rossi