Nicola Larini


Record updated

Nicola Larini
Larini began racing in Formula Italia in 1983, then moved up to Formula Abarth in 1984, placing 3rd overall. He also started in Italian Formula Three the same season. In 1986 he won the title for Coloni in a Dallara, and briefly drove for the same team in Formula 3000 the following year. His rapid ascendancy continued when Coloni entered for the final two European rounds of the 1987 Formula One championship. Larini failed to qualify for the Italian Grand Prix, but got into the Spanish Grand Prix, only to retire early on. For 1988 he was signed by the Osella Formula One team, and drew good notices for his valiant performances in the hugely uncompetitive car, with a best result of 9th in the Monaco Grand Prix. He would continue with Osella in 1989, their much-improved car suffering from the lottery of pre-qualifying. However, Larini continued to shine, running 6th at the San Marino Grand Prix until a hub failure, and running an astonishing 3rd at the Canadian Grand Prix until an electrical failure. He would also qualify 10th for the Japanese Grand Prix. 1990 saw a move up the grid to the Ligier team, but the well-funded French team were at a creative dead-end and the car was a distinct midfielder. A brace of 7th places were Larini's best results in a low-key year, although he easily outshined Philippe Alliot in the other Ligier. Larini then moved to the new Modena team for 1991, once again having to face pre-qualifying. He got through in the opening round, the United States Grand Prix, and held on for 7th place, but the team would develop acute financial difficulties, and were unable to progress. As a result, Larini would only qualify for four more races. For 1992, he was out of luck for a Grand Prix drive, but was signed by Ferrari to develop their active suspension system. Larini kept his racing instincts sharp by winning the Italian Touring Car Championship for Alfa Romeo, and was called up to the Ferrari Formula One team for the end of the year, replacing Ivan Capelli to race-test the active suspension car. He made a fair impression, but started both races from the back of the grid for technical reasons. However, 1993 saw more Ferrari testing and touring cars, this time taking the German title for Alfa Romeo. In 1994, he would have another chance with Ferrari in Formula One, replacing the injured Jean Alesi early in the season. He qualified 7th at the Pacific Grand Prix, but along with Ayrton Senna was eliminated at the first corner by Mika Hakkinen. Then at the San Marino Grand Prix he took a superb 2nd place, but his first points score was overshadowed by the tragic deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. It was back to touring cars with Alfa for the rest of the year, with Larini placing 3rd in the German series. Alfa would drop off the pace for the next two years, with Larini placing 6th in the German series in 1995, and 11th in the Italian series in 1996. However, 1997 would see his Ferrari connections land him a seat with Sauber, who were using rebranded Ferrari engines. Larini scored a point on his return at the Australian Grand Prix, but left after five races after a series of disagreements with Peter Sauber. Since then Larini has been an Alfa Romeo stalwart in touring cars.