Norberto Fontana’s reaction when he found out that they sold the car he raced in Formula 1: how he located it and what is its price

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Norberto Fontana in the Sauber box in one of his four races in 1997 (@norbertofontana)
Norberto Fontana in the Sauber box in one of his four races in 1997 (@norbertofontana)

It often happens in motorsport that drivers lose track of cars with them. More in international categories where cars are owned by the teams or factories that participate, something that happens in the Formula 1. Fulfilling the dream of debuting in La Máxima is the wish of every runner. Once completed, another may be to meet again with that machine with which the sky was touched with the hands and the Argentine Norberto Fontana he found the Sauber with which he raced four Grands Prix in 1997.

The Reef Giant himself took care of the treasure hunt and told the news on his Instagram account where he gave details of his conversation with a representative of Caira Formula One workshop, the company that put the Sauber C16 on sale with chassis number 06, which is the one he drove 24 years ago, according to what the current competitor of Turismo Carretera publishes.

“Hello friends from Officina Caira, I see you have my F1 car, is it for sale?” Fontanita asked in a story on the aforementioned social network where he tagged the company. Then he managed to contact WhasApp and there they gave him the details of the car and the price: 155 thousand euros (183,000 dollars). Although they clarified that the amount does not include the engine, a Ferrari 046 V10 that at that time was called Petronas SPE-01, after the strongest sponsor of the Swiss team based in Hinwil.

The query that the Giant made about the sale of the Sauber C16 (@norbertofontana)
The query that the Giant made about the sale of the Sauber C16 (@norbertofontana)

Norberto was enthusiastic and also shared the dialogue in which he asked his followers: “Did we buy it, Instagram friends? It’s a bit salty for us in pesos ”.

After arriving in Europe in 1993 when he was champion of the Swiss Formula Ford, Fontana joined Sauber in the 1994 season when that year he got into a Maxima car for the first time at the Autodromo de Montmeló, in Barcelona. After his German Formula 3 title in 1995, when he beat Ralf Schumacher, Michael’s younger brother, had a contract to make his F1 debut in 1996. But injuries and recovery from an accident at the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix truncated that possibility.

However, the owner of the team Peter Sauber He always relied on Norberto’s conditions and after racing in Formula Nippon in Japan in 1996 (same cars as Formula 3000, pre-F1 division), for the 1997 season he remained a test and reserve driver for Sauber, while which continued in the Japanese category.

Fontana's dialogue with the representative of the agency that sells the car and consults his followers (@norbertofontana)
Fontana’s dialogue with the representative of the agency that sells the car and consults his followers (@norbertofontana)

For the French Grand Prix, the Giant replaced one of the starting riders, Gianni Morbidelli, who had been injured. The Italian had his place because he was a Ferrari driver, which in those years supplied the Swiss team with engines. In that debut in Magny-Cours he left due to an oversight.

Then the reef also raced in England (9th), Germany (9th) and the so-called European Grand Prix, which was the last race of the year held at the Spanish racetrack in Jerez de la Frontera, where he crossed the finish line in 14th position.

In that season the main drivers of the Máxima were himself Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) y Jacques Villeneuve (Williams), who fought for the title until the last race. Other figures were Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, both with McLaren; Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, from Benetton; or the outgoing champion, Damon Hill, with Arrows.

In 1998 Fontana had closed his incorporation to Tyrrell, but about the hour the Brazilian Ricardo Rosset, with more budget, snatched that possibility. He must have kept running in Japan. In 1999 he participated in Formula 3000, but without major economic chances in 2000 his career changed course and he went to the United States to race in the CART (today IndyCar).

He was in North America for two seasons and returned to compete in Argentina where he was received by the TC 2000, category in which it was champion in 2002 and 2010. In 2003 he debuted at the TC and in 2006 got the title. He is one of the best drivers in the history of Argentine motorsport.

The Eurobrun model Oscar Larrauri raced with in 1988
The Eurobrun model Oscar Larrauri raced with in 1988

The firm that sells the F1 monoposts publishes in its inventory 46 cars from the 70s, 80s, 90s and the first decade of this century. They are units of the Copersucar, Ensign Ferrari, Benetton, Jordan, Tyrrell, Arrows, Sauber, Simtek and BMW teams (which at the time took the place of Sauber).

In that list appears another pearl for Argentines: a Eurobrun 188 chassis 01 which is the model that Oscar Rubén Larrauri raced in the 1988 season and that appears with the decoration of the end of that championship, with the colors white and yellow. Although the number is 33 and that it corresponded to Stefano Modena, it is the same model that Poppy used, which in that year was complicated by the number of teams (about 20) which forced a qualifying elimination. Being part of one of the most humble teams, his car was not competitive and in that season he could only start eight races.

The Santa Fe also participated in 1989 with the same team, but lived a similar situation without being able to show his conditions, beyond that it was not his moment of plenitude. The native of Granadero Baigorria was European Formula 3 champion in 1982, but a lack of budget prevented that possibility.

Eight years later Argentina once again had a representative in the Maximum and it was through Fontana that he generated enormous expectations in his time for his talent and for how he fulfilled his steps in the minor categories in Europe.

The Giant had many times dreamed of reuniting with the Sauber C16 and 24 years later he located it. It is about the car that marked him with fire and with which he was able to reach the great circus. It is that no driver can forget his first F1 car.

Fontana, sideways, in the preview of the race in France where he made his F1 debut (CORSA Archive)
Fontana, sideways, in the preview of the race in France where he made his F1 debut (CORSA Archive)

KEEP READING:

From racing in Formula 1 with Schumacher to moving away from motorsport and selling auto parts for trucks and buses: the new life of Esteban Tuero
From a boat with Pamela Anderson, to fighting Hakkinen with a Minardi and having Prost as boss: alone with Gastón Mazzacane, the last Argentine in Formula 1

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