AntonioPizzonia is a Brazilian racing driver best known for his twenty starts in the Formula 1 World Championship between 2003 and 2005, driving for Jaguar and BMW Williams.
Before entering F1, he won several championship titles in junior single-seater competitions (Formula Vauxhall, Formula Renault, Formula 3). Most recently, he won the shortened season of the 2015 Auto GP Series and currently he competes in the Brazilian Stock Car championship.
Brazilian kart champion
Just like the most of the professional racing drivers, Antonio Reginaldo Pizzonia Junior started his career in karting and was very successful. He won three Sao Paulo championships and also Brazilian kart championship before departure to Europe in 1997 when he tried to make his name at the international stage.
Departure to Europe
Antonio arrived in the United Kingdom with a reputation of great talent. He started to compete in Formula Vauxhall Junior and finished the season as a vice-champion. In the following year, he won the Winter festival in the same competition but also became a winner of Formula Renault Winter festival.
Successful period in Formula Renault
In 1999 Pizzonia’s talent was confirmed with a triumph in Formula Renault UK and with a vice-champion place in Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. The stream of successes has continued in 2000 when the Brazilian moved to the British Formula 3 and after he has scored five wins, Antonio became the series champion. Interestingly, he became the 10th Brazilian who won the title in that competition.
Williams test driver
The following year wasn’t as good. Pizzonio switched to Formula 3000 and finished 6th in the Drivers’ championship, scoring one race win, at Hockenheim, driving for Petrobras Junior Team. He stayed in the series for another season and finished 8th overall in 2002 but what was more important is the fact that he signed a contract with Williams Formula 1 team. Pizzonia acted as a test driver and impressed many with his results.
Before his F1 debut, Antonio Pizzonia was serving as Williams test driver
Formula 1 racing debut with Jaguar
Jaguar F1 team decided to sign Antonio as their race driver for 2003 but after the string of relatively poor results, he was released by the team in the mid-season. Somewhat disappointed, Antonio returned to Williams and continued his role of a test driver.
In the middle of 2004 season, Pizzonia got a chance to race for the British team, replacing Marc Gene. He raced in only four races but managed to pick points in three, finishing 7th in each. During Belgian Grand Prix, he was the leader of the race but had to retire due to gearbox problems when he was at the 3rd place.
Pizzonia debuted in Formula 1 driving for Jaguar
Farewell to F1 after three years
The Jungle Boy, what is one of the Pizzonia’s nicknames, lost his racing place in Williams before the end of the year but stayed with the team as a reserve driver. In 2005, Antonio again got a chance to compete in Formula 1, replacing Nick Heidfeld in Williams for the last five races of the year.
He did a great job in the Italian Grand Prix, finishing 7th after he has started from 16th position, but in the following four races, he couldn’t collect points. That was the end of Pizzonia’s Formula 1 career in which he stayed for three years but failing to drive a single full-season.
Antonio Pizzonia as BMW Williams driver in 2005
Surprising move to GP2 Series
In 2006 the Manaus-born driver appeared in four Champ Car races, driving for Rocketsports, but without too much success. It was a big surprise when Pizzonia entered GP2 Series in 2007, driving for Fisichella Motor Sports International. He drove in five races before being dropped after failing to fulfill expectations.
That was a really big hit for the Brazilian who returned home and started to compete in the national stock car series in which he still competes. Antonio’s best result in Stock Brasil so far is 9th place in 2014 championship when he won two races.
Antonio Pizzonia, Stock car Brasil
Driving in Stock Car Brasil series was Antonio's main duty
However, racing in the Stock Car Brasil wasn’t his sole duty. During 2008 and 2009, Pizzonia has competed in Superleague Formula, driving for Corinthians, taking 9th and 8th position. He returned to the series in 2011 and took two podium finishes.
In 2012, Pizzonia started to race in the Auto GP. He appeared in four races, winning two, both at Autodromo Internacional do Curitiba. Two years later he appeared in only two races at Estoril, finishing 3rd in the second start, while in the following year he was the championship leader before the competition was canceled after just two rounds.
The FIA WEC debut
Pizzonia also appeared in the FIA World Endurance championship. In 2013, driving for Delta-ADR team, he won the LMP2 class at Silverstone driving alongside Tor Graves and James Walker. The same year he also appeared as a guest in Grand-Am Series alongside Gustavo Yacaman in the Ford/Riley of Michael Shank Racing. In 2016, the Manaus-born was a member of Manor’s team at Nurburgring and finished 5th in the class.
Pizzonia currently competes with Prati-Donaduzi in the Brazilian Stock Car championship