Afterwards, he began racing with the unforgettable touring cars of the 90s DTM - the German Tourism Championship - up to endurance races like the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, where Larini still races today and is back at the wheel of a Ferrari.
He's the right man to ask what goes through a driver's head during the last lap of the race.
A car that does not break would be a great start to get to the chequered flag. However, this is not always the case: "When you are in command for 3/4 of the race the last quarter is an agony - says Larini - maybe you've gained some distance, you're in front, if not leading, and so you're just waiting for the countdown of the laps, which in that phase pass slowly, inexorably. At that point, of course, you start to think: "I’m hearing this noise" "I’m feeling this vibration..." "I’m smelling this smell..." and you get all the mental fixations in the world. Then again, it is all normal.
If you have someone right behind your back, do not think about anything; think about doing your best. You are super focused, and in that case it's even harder to make mistakes. On the other hand, it's easy to make them when you're relaxed and in the lead, maybe you make a wrong braking because your mind is already on the podium.
Better to chase or to be chased? An easy question for Larini, who replied: "to be chased. You don't think about anything, you just think about going fast. The problem is when you lower your guard level. At that point, you can make a mistake in the trajectory, in the braking; you can maybe find a lapped driver that doesn't let you go through. In any case, they are both stressful situations, either if there is one who follows you or if you are ahead with a bit of margin: you are still under pressure.”
So far so good for Larini: "The first test I did at Fiorano was a bit of a hasty one: they put me in the car, a day of testing and then we had to leave for Mexico". Then? "Then Berger showed up anyway even if he was not ready to race yet. He didn't let me drive the car! In the end, he only did two laps... but you know, we drivers are all a bit like that. Leaving the car to someone else could be "dangerous", and he made sure that I didn't have to drive it".
Concluding our chat with Larini, we ask him if he ever had the regret of not having had more from the racing world. Stoically, Nicola Larini replies: "At a certain point in my career I said to myself: "It's better to be a high level extra than a low level actor". Let’s settle for this and be happy".
If that's what Larini calls "settling for"…
Being a Formula 1 driver in 2019
While Larini's Formula 1 was already the pinnacle of automotive engineering and was experimenting with new techniques to improve the effectiveness of cars and drivers in the race, in 2019, this sport combines technical excellence with the latest innovations in technology, engineering, design, chemistry, medicine and athletic training.
Despite what one might think, Formula 1 drivers are among the world's fittest athletes and follow very tight diet and training regimes, with off-season training sessions that engage them as much as mid-season.
Nowadays, Formula 1 drivers are subjected to an average pressure of 5G during the race: even a single breath at the wrong time can injure them.