Norberto Fontana is a racing driver from Argentina who currently competes in Argentinean national touring car championships. Earlier in a career, he was successful in single-seater competitions all over the world, reaching Formula One World Championship in 1997 when he recorded four starts with Sauber.
During his single-seater career, Fontana was the German Formula 3 champion in 1995, spent three seasons in the Formula Nippon between 1996 and 1998, a season in the 1999 International Formula 3000 and half of the season in the 2000 CART Championship Series.
In 2001, he returned to Argentina and since then he was a TC2000 champion two times (in 2002 and 2010) and Turismo Carretera champion in 2006.
Starting to race at the age 8
Born in January 1975 in Arrecifes near Buenos Aires, Norberto Edgardo Fontana entered his first karting competitions at the age 8. He stayed in karting until 1992 when he switched to Formula Renault Argentina.
He moved to Europe in 1993, participating in several single-seater series such were European Formula Ford, German Formula Ford, Swiss Formula Ford or Formula Opel Lotus.
In 1995, Fontana was an F3 champion in a Dallara-Opel
German Formula 3 champion in 1995
In 1994, Fontana joined KMS team to drive Dallara-Opel in Formula 3. His main competition was the German F3 Championship in which he finished sixth in his debut season, scoring three wins. In non-championship races, he was best at Masters of Formula 3 event where he was fifth.
In 1995, still driving a Dallara-Opel for KMS, he dominantly took the German F3 Championship title ahead of Ralf Schumacher. Fontana was a race winner ten times during a 16-race season. In non-championship races, he won F3 Masters, finished fifth at Macau Grand Prix and 8th at Monaco Grand Prix.
Norberto Fontana made a debut in Formula Nippon in 1996
Three seasons in Formula Nippon
The next step in Fontana's career was the Formula Nippon. He joined Shionogi Team Nova to drive the #10 Lola-Mugen Honda. He was a race winner at Fuji, finishing fifth in the points, three places ahead of his teammate Pedro de la Rosa. The champion was Ralf Schumacher.
Next year, Fontana was driving the #1 Reynard-Mugen for Team LeMans. He won one race, at Mine Circuit, to finish third in the points, behind Pedro de la Rosa and Takuya Kurosawa. In 1998, his third Japanese season, Fontana stayed with Team LeMans in the #7 Reynard. He scored one victory again, at Fuji Speedway, finishing fourth in the points. The champion was his teammate Satoshi Motoyama.
While in Japan, Fontana also entered GT Championship in 1998, driving a Toyota Supra for Toyota Castrol Team Tom's in six races. He and Masanori Sekiya scored two podiums, finishing seventh in the points.
Norberto Fontana in a Sauber C16
Four Formula One starts with Sauber
Fontana had the first contact with Sauber F1 team in 1994 while he was racing in Formula 3, participating in one test session. Over 1995 and 1996, Fontana was a test driver for Sauber and then, in 1997, he unexpectedly had been given a chance to race in Formula One as a replacement for injured Gianni Morbidelli.
Fontana made a debut in the #17 Sauber C16-Petronas in June's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Starting 20th on the grid, he spun off after 40 laps. Fontana was then driving the #17 Sauber at British Grand Prix and German Grand Prix, finishing in the ninth place both at Silverstone and Hockenheim.
Norberto Fontana worked with Sauber for two seasons before his F1 debut in 1997
Participating in controversial 1997 European Grand Prix
In October, Fontana was invited to drive for Sauber at European Grand Prix at Jerez because Morbidelli was injured again. It was season's finale and the race was marked by a controversial clash between championship contenders Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve.
Schumacher retired and he was later excluded from championship while Villeneuve took his only championship title. Fontana finished in 14th place. During a race, Fontana caught an attention while blocking Villeneuve.
Three more seasons in single-seaters
After three seasons in Japan, Fontana's main competition in 1999 was the International Formula 3000. He was driving the #35 Lola-Zytek for Fortec Motorsport, not scoring wins or podiums to finish 13th in the final standings.
In 2000, Fontana failed to secure a seat in Minardi F1 team and he joined Della Penna Motorsports in the CART Championship Series. He was driving the #10 Reynard-Toyota in ten rounds, finishing best in 11th place and being replaced by Memo Gidley after that. In 2001, Fontana returned shortly to F3000, driving for Prost Junior Team in three races. It was the end of his open-wheel racing career.
Norberto Fontana in 2000
Returning to Argentina in 2001, taking first championship title in 2002
In 2001, Norberto Fontana returned to Argentina and since then he competed in all national touring car championships, winning three titles.
In 2001, he finished seventh in the TC2000 (Turismo Competicion) series, driving for Toyota Team Argentina. Next year, he captured his first national championship title, scoring four wins in a Toyota Corolla.
Turismo Carretera champion in 2006
In 2003, Fontana expanded his racing activities to two championships, driving a Toyota in the TC2000 series and Dodge GTX in the Turismo Carretera series, the oldest car racing championship in the world.
He was successful in both competitions, regularly collecting victories both with Toyota and Dodge. In 2006, he became Turismo Carretera champion, driving a Dodge Polara RT Coupe.
Norberto Fontana was a champion in two national touring car championships
TC2000 champion again in 2010
In 2008, Fontana expanded his racing commitments, even more, adding Top Race V6 series on his schedule. Parallel to that series, he continued to race in TC2000 and Turismo Carretera. The next success came in 2009 when he was a winner of TC2000 Copa Endurance.
In 2010, he became TC2000 champion for the second time. This time, he was driving a Ford Focus for Ford YPF team, winning two races during a season.
In recent years, Fontana is racing with Chevrolet
Not tired of collecting wins
In the following years, Fontana stayed regular competition in national touring car competitions, continuing to collect victories. He finished third in the 2014 TC2000 series, driving a Chevrolet Cruze, what was his last season's result in the top 5.
In 2017, he had a one-off attempt in GT racing, participating at Gulf 12 Hours race with MRS GT Racing's Porsche. The all-Argentinean crew Norberto Fontana/Esteban Gini/Lucas Colombo Russell finished 18th overall and first in GTX2 class. In January 2018, Fontana added one more GT endurance race to his CV, participating at Dubai 24 Hours in GT4 class with Mercedes-AMG GT R.