Niko Nurminen

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Niko Nurminen
Nationality Flag of Finland svg.png Finnish
Born 11th July, 1970
Vantaa, Finland
F1RGP2C
Debut Season 1995
Latest Season 1998
Current Team DAMS
Car Number 22
Former Teams Independent
Races 51 (3 non-championship)
Championships 0
Victories 0
Podiums 1
Points 10
Pole Positions 0
Fastest Laps 0
First Race 1995 Duel in the Desert
First Victory N/A
Last Victory N/A
Last Race 1998 Duel in the Desert
Best Finish 11th (1998)
Formula One
Debut Season 1995
Latest Season 1996
Current Team N/A
Car Number N/A
Former Teams Forti, Pacific
Races 10 (8 starts)
Championships 0
Victories 0
Podiums 0
Points 0
Pole Positions 0
Fastest Laps 0
First Race 1995 German Grand Prix
First Victory N/A
Last Victory N/A
Last Race 1996 British Grand Prix
Best Finish 24th (1996)


Niko Nurminen (b. 11th July 1970 Vantaa, Finland) is a retired Finnish racing driver. He is best known as the manager and cousin of Nick Nurmester and founder of the Nurminen Racing Engineering team, but he also had a racing career of his own.

Early career

Graduating from local karting championships, Nurminen started driving in the European Karting Championship in 1987, culminating in a 3rd place finish in 1989. This was followed by a title-winning campaign in Finnish Formula Ford in 1990, before a switch to German F3 for the next two seasons. In 1992 he came close to winning the title, which earned him a spot in F3000 the following year. However, he was notoriously unreliable in his first season, but got better in 1994 and finished a fine 4th.

Formula One

Nurminen's helmet design
With decent results in F3000 and a handful of sponsorship from various Finnish companies, Nurminen got the chance to take part in Formula One in 1995, even though only in the cash-strapped Pacific team. However, both of his entries ended up in spinning out of the race. He was promptly sacked for Giovanni Lavaggi, who brought in more money. His next chance came up early next season, again more because of his sponsorship than his skill. Another small team, Forti, had fallen on hard times after their Brazilian backing in the form of Pedro Diniz moved to Ligier after the 1995 season, and they were forced to sign Andrea Montermini, a Pacific refugee, mostly because of the money he brought in the team. However, Montermini's backing suddenly dried up after only two races, and Nurminen managed to negotiate a contract to drive for the team for the rest of the season. However, the FG01B chassis they used in the first few GPs was notoriously slow, and even after the more competitive FG03 was unveiled, money was getting tight which contributed to poor reliability. Nurmester finished in only one race of the six in which he qualified; a lowly 15th position in the French Grand Prix, the last car running. Eventually the team folded after the British GP, and Nurminen was again out in the cold. In 1997, he was one of the drivers for the Precision Motorsports project, but the team folded after a few tests. Nurminen has later been quoted "three out of the four Formula One cars I drove were horrible, no-one could've performed well with those. The Pacific was difficult to drive and unreliable, the FG01B was just damn slow and the FG03 was a bit faster, but also unreliable. The only good car I drove was Precision, but the whole thing folded before it even got off properly. So I never got a proper chance at F1."

Formula 1 Rejects Grand Prix 2 Championship

After being sacked from Pacific, Nurminen competed in various smaller series before it was announced that the 1995 Duel in the Desert would feature guest drivers. Nurminen took up the challenge, and despite qualifying in a lowly 20th, he eventually finished the race in a brilliant 4th, sparking rumors of him taking further part in the series next season. Only days later, it was confirmed that he would drive for DAMS in the 1996 season, replacing Pippa Mann who left the team for a seat at Williams.

1996-98: DAMS

However, his first season didn't start well, being the last driver to finish in the Australian Grand Prix and commiting many mistakes in the race, earning him the ROTR title. This was further followed up by being a suspect in an assault case after a drunken night in Melbourne post-race, although he was eventually acquitted. In his next race in Brazil, he was running well in the top 10 before an engine failure put him out of the race. The next round in Argentina was no different, with an early gearbox failure forcing him to retire. The Luxembourg GP, however, went much better for him, finishing 8th, albeit 3 laps down. This turned out to be both his and the team's season-best result. In San Marino, he finished 14th, while in Monaco a late electrical problem made him finish 15th. After a finish in 14th place in Spain, two mechanical retirements followed in Canada and USA. In France he finished 11th, disappointingly a lap down on his team mate, while in Great Britain a solid drive saw him finish 9th in treacherous conditions. Two low-key finishes in 14th and 13th followed in Germany and Hungary, before high attrition at the Belgian GP saw him finish 10th right behind his team mate. In Italy, an early suspension failure made him the first retirement of the race, and in Japan his season was capped off with another 10th place. In the non-championship Duel in the Desert, balance issues made him finish second-last.

With the promise of better performance in the form of Peugeot engines, Nurminen signed to drive for DAMS for another season. His 1997 season got off to a bad start as his transmission failed early on in Australia. South America provided him with more mixed results, as in Brazil he equalled his career-best finish with 8th, before a puncture forced him out from the race in Argentina after running as high as 3rd. At Imola, he scored his and the team's first points with 5th, in a race which also saw his team mate James Allen finish on the points as well with 6th. A puncture forced him out of the race in Monaco, after which two low-key finishes followed in Spain and Canada. At the US GP he retired early as one of the wheels in his car became loose. In France he was just outside the points with 7th, while in Britain he was 12th. In Germany he nearly scored points, but two embarassing spins saw him drop down to 7th. After a rather anonymous race in Hungaroring where he finished 11th, Nurminen took advantage of the changing conditions at Spa to qualify 12th and eventually emerge through the chaos in third, taking both his and the team's first podium. In Italy he narrowly missed out on the points while Allen managed an excellent 5th. In Austria the DAMS car was off the pace so Nurminen only managed a 13th, right behind his team mate. He capped off the season with a poor performance in Japan, finishing 12th and last, three laps down while Allen managed another 6th place. At the non-championship Duel in the Desert, he lost some ground in the start before being taken out in a collision with Gio van Dycke, which triggered a huge pileup.

Nurminen stayed with the French team for yet another season, as their performance had massively improved during 1997. In the first race of the 1998 season held in Australia, he already diced in the midfield and would've likely scored points if it wasn't for a transmission failure. Points didn't evade him for long though, as in the very next race in Brazil Nurminen drove a solid race to finish 6th, taking the team's first points of the season. In Argentina he was again running in the points, but then his Buenos Aires curse struck again as the engine of his DAMS failed. At Imola he managed a 10th after struggling with a poor setup in his car, while in Spain he had an anonymous race, finishing 13th. A good qualifying result in Monaco went down the drain quickly as his DAMS suffered an oil leak early on in the race. Canada wasn't much different as his engine blew up mid-race, while in Britain a water leak forced him to retire. Another early engine failure at the US GP sparked some angry comments from Nurminen towards the Peugeot-Citroën motorsport division. He managed to finish in 10th position at DAMS' home race in France, before a water leak forced him out early on in the Austrian GP. In Germany, he narrowly missed out on the points by finishing 7th, while in Hungary he registered his second points finish of the season with a 5th in a high-attrition race. Another engine failure put him out of the contention in Belgium, but more points followed in Italy with a 6th place finish - the same race also saw his team mate Jörg Scrattenheim finish 4th. He then capped off the season with a fine 7th in Japan, just outside of the points.

1998: McLaren

In early 1998, Niko Nurminen joined McLaren as their first test and reserve driver, while still staying as a race driver for DAMS.

Prost GP

Nurminen was drafted into the Prost GP Series for one race to replace the FSK Racing driver Nathan Nurmester, whom he managed, after Nurmester was banned from the Italian GP for causing a collision at the previous round held at Nürburgring. However, he retired with a suspension failure while his team mate Dietrich Anger went on to win the race.

Nurminen Racing Engineering

Nurminen founded his own team, Nurminen Racing Engineering, as Nurminen Engineering to compete in the 1998 Rejects Touring Car Championship season, after securing sponsorship from multiple Finnish companies. Following that he also ran his team in various other series, and used the name when he entered his cousin Nick Nurmester in Nordic F3 and Formula Two. In 2007, Nurminen retired from active motorsport and has concentrated on his own team and driver management ever since. Besides Nurmester he also acts as the manager of many other drivers; incidentally many of them have been previously associated with Il Barone Rampante. From 2015 onwards, the team expanded to F1 Rejects Development Series, F3RWRS and the newly-formed RTCC. However, the RTCC program was shut down after the 2015 season due to poor results and their entry was sold to Ecurie Fabron.

Rejects of LFS/International Formula Reject Challenge

Nurminen drove a racing car for the first time in six years by carrying out pre-season testing for the car used in the now-defunct Rejects of LFS series during its 2014 season. Despite intense rumours that this might see him return on the racing circuits more permanently, nothing came to fruitition as Nurminen thought his knee injury hindered his driving too much and also because of the increasing amounts of time his team Nurminen Racing Engineering demanded from him.

In early 2016 rumours started to circulate that he would be involved in RoLFS' follow-up series International Formula Reject Challenge by being its official safety car driver. However this was not the case, as the job went to his half-cousin Nathan Nurmester.

Results

Formula One

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1995 Pacific Grand Prix Ltd Pacific PR02 Ford EDC BRA ARG SME ESP MON CAN FRA GBR GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL ITA POR EUR PAC JPN AUS 36th 0
1996 Forti Grand Prix Forti FG01B
Forti FG03
Ford ECA Zetec-R AUS BRA ARG
Ret
EUR
DNQ
SME
Ret
MON
Ret
ESP
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
15
GBR
DNQ
GER HUN BEL ITA POR JPN 24th 0

Formula 1 Rejects Grand Prix 2 Championship

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 NC WDC Points
1995 NRE NRE-01 Renault BRA ARG SME MON ESP CAN FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR EUR JPN PAC AUS PHX
4
N/A 0
1996 DAMS DA-01B
DA-02
Ford AUS
11
BRA
Ret
ARG
Ret
LUX
8
SME
14
MON
15
ESP
14
CAN
Ret
USA
Ret
FRA
11
GBR
9
GER
14
HUN
13
BEL
10
ITA
Ret
JPN
10
PHX
25
20th 0
1997 DAMS DA-03 Peugeot AUS
Ret
BRA
8
ARG
Ret
SME
5
MON
Ret
ESP
11
CAN
10
USA
Ret
FRA
7
GBR
12
GER
7
HUN
11
BEL
3
ITA
7
AUT
13
JPN
12
PHX
Ret
15th 6
1998 DAMS DA-04 Citroën AUS
Ret
BRA
6
ARG
Ret
SME
10
ESP
13
MON
Ret
CAN
Ret
GBR
Ret
USA
Ret
FRA
10
AUT
Ret
GER
7
HUN
5
BEL
Ret
ITA
6
JPN
7
PHX
11th 4

Prost GP

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 DC Pts
2001 FSK Racing AUS MEX CAN SMR ESP AUT SCO GBR ENG FRA NED GER LUX ITA
Ret
JAP USA CAL BRA BEL =38th 0

* Season in progress