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Shinji Nakano

1st April 1971 (Age 49)
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Most recent race (in database):

The son of a former Formula 3 driver, Shinji Nakano raced in Formula 1 for a couple of seasons without ever being more than a journeyman.

Early racing career

Successful in karts, Nakano spent a single season in Japanese F3 before deciding to test his mettle in Europe in 1990. Nakano qualified on pole position for his second British Vauxhall-Lotus series race that year and won at Silverstone to take fifth in the championship.

A second season in the category was less successful and Nakano returned to Japan to race in F3 and Formula 3000. Third in the 1994 F3 championship, he was sixth in Formula Nippon two years later when driving a works Dome F104i-Mugen. He was also test driver for Dome’s stillborn Grand Prix project in 1996 and Nakano graduated to F1 a year later courtesy of Mugen Honda.

Formula 1 with Prost and Minardi

He was named as Olivier Panis’s Prost Grand Prix team-mate for 1997 at the behest of the engine supplier. It was a difficult debut season but his performances improved as the year progressed and Nakano finished sixth in Canada and Hungary. Sponsorship dollars helped secure a move to Minardi in 1998 but seventh in the Canadian GP was the best result of a pointless campaign.

Career after Formula 1

Unable to secure a race seat for the following season, Nakano tested for Jordan-Mugen during 1999 before joining Walker Racing for the 2000 Champ Car World Series. The next two years were spent with Adrian Fernández’s team and his Lola B02/00-Honda was a career-best fourth at Toronto and set the fastest lap in Mexico during 2002.

That was his final full season of open-wheel racing overseas although he made a couple of Indycar starts in 2003 that included finishing 14th at Indianapolis with Beck Motorsports. He has since raced in sports cars but 14th in 2011 with an OAK Racing Pescarolo 01-Judd is his best finish to date from eight starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

He joined ADR-Delta for Fuji’s round of the 2012 World Endurance Championship and the ORECA 03-Nissan he shared with John Martin and Tor Graves won the LMP2 class after finishing eighth overall.