Nicola Larini is a former racing driver from Italy who competed in various racing series. He was born on 19th of March 1964 in Lido di Camaiore, in the province of Lucca in Tuscany.
Video - Driving the Ferrari 412 T1 at Imola
Larini started his career in 1983, racing in Formula Italia. A year later, he competed in Formula Abarth, finishing third overall. In 1986, the Italian won the title in Formula Abarth, but also debuted in Formula 3000 race as a driver of Coloni Racing, appearing only in one race in which he had to retire.
Unexpected debut in Formula 1
In 1987, Coloni decided to enter the final two rounds of the Formula 1 World championship, so Larini unexpectedly got a chance to drive in the most popular racing series. He failed to qualify for the Italian Grand Prix but qualified for the Spanish Grand Prix. Unfortunately, he had to retire in an early stage of the race.
Driving Coloni FC187 in 1987
For the 1988 campaign, Osella Squadra Corse signed Larini as a full-time driver. Driving a car that was far below a decent level, Larini did all he could to pull out the maximum from the car. His best result that year was 9th place in Monaco. He stayed with Osella for the 1989 season, but the results were even worse. With an unreliable car, Larini managed to finish only one of 16 races, finishing 15th in San Marino.
Driving Osella at 1989 Japanese Grand Prix
However, it must be said that Larini’s driving was described as good. For example, he was 6th in San Marino before the hub failure. In Canada, he was third before an electrical failure on his car while in Japan he managed to finish 10th in qualifying.
F1 years with Ligier and Modena
Those performances have not gone unnoticed and Nicola Larini moved up the ranks signing for Ligier for 1990 season. The French team had a good financial backing and opportunity to fight for the top of the grid, but their cars were average. Larini finished most of the races that season, but results were the same as his car – average. Highlights of the year were 7th places in Spain and Japan.
As a driver of Ligier
New Modena team acquired Larini for the 1991 Formula 1 season and despite the solid start of the year and 7th place in the US Grand Prix, the rest of the season was awful. The Italian managed to finish only two of 15 races and after four years in the championship, he was still unable to score points.
Good results in touring cars racing and short stay with Ferrari
He failed to secure a drive for the 1992 F1 season, so he decided to switch to touring cars racing. Driving an Alfa Romeo, he became a champion of Italian Touring Cars Championship and was called by Ferrari for the last two rounds of Formula1 season. In the famous team, Larini finally had a proper car, but the results again were poor. In 1993, he drove Ferrari in two Grand Prix races and finally score his first points in Formula 1 finishing second in San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Sadly, his success was overshadowed by the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.
Nicola Larini (left) at podium with Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen
1993 DTM champion
The same year, the Italian achieved another success in touring cars racing. He switched to the German DTM series and immediately won the championship, again behind the wheel of Alfa Romeo 155. This success later opened him the doors of the World Touring Cars Championship.
1993 DTM champion in Alfa Romeo 155
Larini's last try in Formula 1 was in 1997 when he got a seat in Sauber team. The Italian did relatively well but after fifth race of the season he left the team after a constant disagreement with owner Peter Sauber.
Five years in the WTCC
Later, he spent five years in the WTCC. Driving a Chevrolet Lacetti from 2005 until 2008, and Chevrolet Cruze LT in 2009, he became an established racer and he was often in the top 10. His best result was fifth place in 2007 Drivers’ championship while his single race win in the series was in 2009 in Morocco.
In Chevrolet, 2009 WTCC Race of Morocco
Later in 2009, Larini announced his retirement from professional racing but still competed sporadically in the International Superstar Series.