Alessandro Nannini

Born:
7th July 1959 (Age 60)
Siena, Tuscany
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Sandro Nannini was a charismatic and good looking Formula 1 driver who, while not the class of the field, was every inch a star. Immensely popular with fans and in the paddock alike, he lucked into his one Grand Prix victory but his F1 career came to a shuddering halt a year later when severely injured in a helicopter accident.

Background and early racing career

Born into a privileged Siena family, he originally raced motocross and rallied a Lancia Stratos. His motor racing debut was in the 1981 Formula Italia Championship and Nannini was confident enough to jump straight into European Formula 2 after just one season.

His three years in F2 with Minardi began with fifth on his debut at Silverstone in 1982. Second place finishes at Misano that year and again at the Nürburgring in 1983 showed promise and Nannini also joined Lancia’s sports car team. He shared the winning Lancia LC2 in the 1984 Kyalami 1000Kms with Riccardo Patrese ahead of a field that had been decimated by a dispute over starting money.

Formula 1 with Minardi and Benetton

Nannini raced a Minardi-Motori Moderni in the 1986 and 1987 F1 World Championship. Off-the-pace and unreliable, just finishing was a challenge. However, he impressed nonetheless, especially when compared to experienced team-mate Andrea de Cesaris during his rookie season.

He joined Benetton for 1988 and was third in Britain and Spain – finishing ninth equal in the final standings as a consequence. Promoted to team leader in 1989, his form and lap times seemingly fluctuated as the mood took. He qualified third for the United States GP only to crash in the warm-up but Nannini ended his season in confident style. He benefited when Ayrton Senna was disqualified in the wake of his controversial Japanese accident with Alain Prost to register his only F1 victory and he then finished second in torrential Australian rain.

He then rose to the challenge of having Nelson Piquet as his new team-mate for 1990 and was "unquestionably the most improved driver of the season" according to Autocourse. Outstanding at Hockenheim, Nannini fought Senna for the lead after running non-stop and eventually finished second. He could have won in Hungary but was punted out of the race as a result of an overly-optimistic passing attempt from the Brazilian.

Helicopter accident and subsequent career

He finished third in Spain but that was to be his last GP. He crashed his new helicopter on landing at his parents’ house near Siena and his right arm was severed. It was reconnected during an 11-hour operation and he returned to race in the 1992 Italian Touring Car Championship with a specially modified Alfa Romeo.

He transferred to the German DTM a year later and finished third in the 1996 International Touring Car Series. Nannini joined Mercedes-Benz for the following season’s FIA GT Championship and won the Suzuka 1000Kms with Marcel Tiemann and Bernd Schneider.

However, he decided to retire at the end of the season. He did return in 2006 but his thriving café business and vineyards are now the focus of his professional life.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1997 FIA GT Championship
AMG Mercedes
1 0 1 1 5th 34
1996 International Touring Car Series
Alfa Corse
24 (2) 6 7 7
30% win rate
3rd 180
1995 International Touring Car Series
Alfa Corse
8 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 17
1995 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Alfa Corse
13 0 2 0
0% win rate
11th 44
1994 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Alfa Corse
24 0 5 5
21% win rate
4th 149
1993 Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft
Alfa Corse
21 4 5 2
10% win rate
8th 121
1990 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
14 0 3 0
0% win rate
8th 21
1989 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 4 1
7% win rate
6th 32
1988 F1 World Championship
Benetton Formula
16 0 2 0
0% win rate
9th 12
1987 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1987 World Touring Car Championship
Alfa Corse
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
24th 59
1986 F1 World Championship
Minardi Team
14 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
3 2 1 0 34th 15
1985 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
7 5 2 0 8th 50
1984 European F2 Championship
Minardi Team
11 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 9
1984 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
4 1 2 1 16th 35
1983 European F2 Championship
Minardi Team
12 0 1 0
0% win rate
7th 11
1983 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
2 0 1 0 22nd 15
1982 European F2 Championship
Minardi Team
12 (1) 0 1 0
0% win rate
10th 8
1982 World Endurance Championship
Martini Racing (Lancia)
1 0 1 0 18th 16