Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ex-F1 racer and team owner Adrian Campos dies aged 60

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Over the years the ever enthusiastic Campos played a role in furthering the careers of dozens of drivers, including Fernando Alonso.

The news was announced by his team, who said: “Today is the saddest day in the history of Campos Racing. Our President and founder, Adrian Campos Suner, has left us.

“His heart stopped beating, but his memory will be the engine that will keep us all fighting to continue his legacy … Rest in Peace.”

Born in Valencia in 1960, Campos competed with radio controlled model cars before moving into racing proper in his native Spain. He quickly graduated to Formula 3, competing in the European series in 1983. He scored his first points the following year.

In 1985 he focussed on the German F3 series, in which he finished third behind Volker Weidler and Kris Nissen. He was also entered in a Tyrrell at the Nurburgring Formula 3000 event, but the race was cancelled due to snow.

In 1986 he made the fulltime jump to F3000 with Peter Gethin Racing. In a packed field he failed to qualify his March several times, and his best result was seventh in his home race at Jarama, after a late switch to the Lola Motorsport team. He also drove a Porsche 956 for John Fitzpatrick in the World Sportscar Championship event at Jerez.

Despite his low-key F3000 season, Campos found the backing to jump straight into F1 with Minardi in 1987, as team mate to Alessandro Nannini. He had a difficult time with the unreliable Motor Moderni-powered car, and his only classified finish was 14th at Jerez.

Adrian Campos, Minardi Cosworth M188

Photo by: Sutton Images

He stayed with the team as it switched to Cosworth power for the 1988 season, joined by countryman Luiz Perez Sala. He started the first two races, but after three non-qualifications in what was by then a packed field, he left the team and was replaced by Pierluigi Martini.

Later Campos switched his focus to touring cars, winning the Spanish title in 1994 with an Alfa Romeo. In 1997 he raced a Ferrari 333SP, making his only Le Mans 24 Hours start that year, before retiring from active driving to form his own team.

Focussing initially on Spain’s growing Open by Nissan series, Campos Motorsport won the title with Marc Gene in 1998, future F1 champion Alonso in 1999 and Antonio Garcia in 2000.

In 2005 the team entered the new GP2 category under the Campos Grand Prix name. After two low-key years, the team made a big step in 2007, finishing third in the series with Giorgio Pantano, who scored two wins. The following year Lucas di Grassi earned third, and with support from Vitaly Petrov, Campos won the teams’ title.

Campos then took the bold decision to move into F1, and his GP2 team found new ownership under the Addax name.

Having gained an F1 entry as Campos Grand Prix he began to prepare for the 2010 season. Ultimately financial problems saw a change of ownership and the team morphed into HRT before its first race weekend.

Having gone back to the junior categories in Spain, Campos moved into the WTCC with SEAT in 2013, before joining forces with Chevrolet.  The Campos name returned to GP2 in 2014, with Alexander Rossi among the drivers, before moving into GP3 in 2015.

Campos also became involved in the new Formula E category, partnering the NEXTEV TCR team and winning the first title in 2014-15 with Nelson Piquet Jr, before hooking up with Mahindra.

Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing

Ralph Boschung, Campos Racing

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Campos had a difficult first year in the first year of the rebranded F2 series in 2017, when after running a revolving door of drivers it gave Lando Norris his first outing in the category in the Abu Dhabi finale. 

In 2019 the team scored three wins with Jack Aitken, who finished fifth in the championship. Aitken stayed on board in 2020, while Ralph Boschung, who drove for the team in Abu Dhabi last year, has been signed for this season.

Many former drivers and associates have been quick to pay tribute to Campos, who died of a sudden coronary disease, according to his team. 

Aitken, who was released by Campos to make his F1 debut with Williams last year, said: “Adrian, RIP. You were so kind, true to your word, competitive, mischievous, wise. 

“You always knew exactly what to say to me, because at heart you were still a driver. And you created a family at Campos full of brilliant, talented people, who will miss you dearly. I will too.”

The Mahindra Formula E team said: “Woven into the very fabric of motorsport, Adrian was a kind, decent man who was highly respected in the industry.

“He was an integral part of the growth and successes of Mahindra Racing in Formula E. and we will never forget his contribution. We pass our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be sorely missed.”

Podium: Adrian Campos

Podium: Adrian Campos

Photo by: GP3 Series Media Service



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