The Argentine raced four races for Sauber in 1997, replacing regular driver Gianni Morbidelli. He didn’t leave an indelible impression in his stint as an F1 driver, but the story of how he got a helmet back last weekend after it was stolen from his home twenty-three years ago is remarkable to say the least.
While Fontana was in England to negotiate for a seat with Tyrell, the helmet in question was stolen from his home in Argentina. It was a helmet he had worn in 1996 during test sessions in Mugello and Estoril when he was associated with Sauber as a test pilot.
Nearly twenty-four years later, in a suburb of Buenos Aires, Christian Bodrato, a friend of Fontana’s, saw a woman sitting next to a motorcycle with a helmet on her lap wearing Fontana’s design. Bodrato took a photo and sent it to Fontana, who immediately saw that it was his helmet.
Bodrato spoke to the woman and was able to buy the helmet from the woman, who said she had nothing to do with the theft, and could return it to its rightful owner. The helmet was in pretty good condition, only the radio equipment was missing.
“I knew one day I could find that helmet because when people see those colors, they know they’re mine,” Fontana wrote on his Instagram account.
Fontana’s F1 career did not last longer than four races for Sauber. He tried to secure another seat with Tyrell and Minardi but to no avail. He raced in Formula 3000, Formula Nippon and briefly in the CART series before returning to Argentina.
Fontana, now forty-six, is still a driver in touring car racing in his home country.
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