Today marks the respective birthdays for former F1 pilots Giorgio Bassi and Norberto Fontana!
Turning 77 today, Bassi made just one Formula 1 appearance, piloting an ageing Scuderia Centro Sud BRM P57 on his home circuit at Monza until his engine went pop.
A regular in Italian Formula 3 circles, Bassi was a decent driver in endurance races, taking a class win at the 1965 Targa Florio.
A hugely impressive driver in the junior categories – including an excellent championship win in the German F3 series, beating the likes of Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli and Alexander Wurz – big things were expected of Argentine Norberto Fontana, who turns 36 today.
Testing for the Sauber team as early as 1994, Fontana headed off to the world of Formula Nippon before being called up to replace the injured Gianni Morbidelli at Sauber in mid-1997.
With limited mileage in the car, he was always going to struggle and his four races with the team got him nowhere, other than being in the minds of conspiracy theorists who speculated that he had deliberately held up Jacques Villeneuve in the Canadian’s chase of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari at the controversial European Grand Prix. The conspiracy theory? Sauber was running Ferrari engines…
Either way, it was enough to earn Norberto a place on our ‘Top Ten Mobile Chicanes’ feature on the Richard’s F1 website.
After F1, Fontana disappeared to the home of the F1 exile in the late 1990s to early 2000s: CART – where he last half a season with the Della Penna outfit, finishing only two of the nine races he started.
Fontana now competes in the South American touring car scene.