Alberto Colombo is a former Formula One driver from Italy. He entered 3 Formula One Grands Prix in 1978, two with an ATS where he pre-qualified but then failed to qualify in Belgiun and Spain and one with a Merzario which he failed to pre-qualify for the Italian Grand Prix.
Colombo is from Brianza, near Monza in Italy. He was born in in Varedo near Milan and started racing quite late in life and was already 28 years old when he won the 1974 Italian F3 championship, driving a GRD 374 Ford and a March 743 Toyota for Scuderia del Lario.
Looking to move into F1 he need to progress quickly and in 1975 he moved to F2 driving a March 742 and 752 with BMW power for both Trivellato and the Cucine Elba racing teams.
He had a fairly nondescript season with a best finish of 5th in the first heat of a non-championship race at Misano and scoring a single championship point for 6th at Nogaro.
In 1976 he stayed in F2 but switched teams, joining the Delta Squadra Corse, driving their March 752 BMW. It was another less than distinguished season. With a best result of 5th overall in the non-championship Misano round he ended the season once again with a single point.
Another season in F2 beckoned and in 1977 with a new team, AFMP Euroracing, driving their March 772 BMW, he finally started to show some form. He started the year with a 5th at Silverstone and 4th at Thruxton before taking another 5th at Vallelunga. At Pau he was running in 4th spot when the race was stopped. This was a fortunate result as Didier Pironi (2nd), Riccardo Patrese (3rd), Colombo, and Ricardo Zunino (6th) had all crashed. He then finished a fine 3rd at Mugello, before two more 6ths at Rouen and Nogaro. He ended the season with 18 points, equal with Ingo Hoffmann, but 8th in the Championship, behind him on countback.
F1 was now pretty much out of the question and in 1978 he took the usual route of another season of F2 but now with his own team. He bought a pair of March 782 BMWs and scored points with 4th place at both Rouen and Nogaro, and 5th places at Hockenheim and Mugello. Ending the season on 11 points, he was 10th overall.
However an F1 opportunity did arrise early in the season when at the age of 32 he was brought in to replace Jean-Pierre Jarier who had quit the ATS team.
At the Belgian GP at Zolder, without the benefit of any testing, he make it through pre-qualifying. He was then was slowest of the remaining 28 drivers, but by a respectably small margin.
The Spanish GP at Jarama saw Alberto only 0.72s away from qualiying another decent performance considering the time, or rather lack of time, he had spent in the car. However he was dropped by ATS after Jarama to be replaced by Keke Rosberg. Then later in the year when Merzario decided to run a second A1 chassis at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, he got another shot. Arturo actually managed to qualify in 22nd place but Colombo failed to make it past pre-qualifying, joining Ertl, Rosberg and Stommelen.
During the year he also drove a Volkswagen Scirocco in the European Touring Car Championship, finishing 9th with Girolamo Capra in a round in Austria.
For 1979 Colombo continued in Formula 2 with his Sanremo Racing. He bough two March 792s but quickly returned to the now slightly updated March 782s. A 6th at Silverstone, 4th at Zandvoort and 3rd at Thruxton saw him fall to equal 13th in the championship, along with Miguel Angel Guerra on 8 points.
Late in the year he made the trip to South America to race in the F3 Temporada Series which he helped to organise with Nestor Biglieri. It was an unhappy experience with the cars being underpowered and ill prepared. Problems with the locally sourced PAM tyres also saw them deflating on the long straights of Balcarce, the location of the first round, and only 11 cars took to the grid. In the second heat, when Colombo was running near the front, he had a tyre deflate, and he ended up hitting the pitwall, injuring the late Cesare Gariboldi and a fellow mechanic. Colombo himself injured three ribs. Further problems were encountered at the second round run at Bahía Blanca and only 12 cars made the grid. Four days later the series was cancelled.
During 1979 had Alberto considered entering F1 with his own car, no doubt inspired by Arturo Merzario's Merzario. He project was named the Riviera and was sponsored by a wealthy business man from Brianza. A chassis was designed by Giorgio Valentini and a single chassis was built by Thompson. Alberto bought three Cosworth engines and a gear box and he also bought another chassis from Kauhsen. However the money dried up before the project got any further and everything was sold off.
A final season with Sanremo's 782 in 1980 saw him finish 3rd at Hockenheim in the race shortened due to the fatal accident of Markus Höttinger. After a 6th at Vallelunga and again at Pau he switched to a Toleman TG280 and took 6th at Misano, 2nd in the non-championship race at Monza, and 5th at Hockenheim to end the year 10th overall in the series on 9 points.
He retired to run the Sanremo team as owner and manager.