Adrian Campos obituary: Ex-F1 driver and F2 team boss dies aged 60

Adrian Campos obituary: Ex-F1 driver and F2 team boss dies aged 60

Team owner and former Minardi Formula 1 driver Adrian Campos has passed away at the age of 60.

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 F3, competing in the European series in 1983 and scored his first points the following year.

In 1985, he focused 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 F3000 event, but the race was cancelled due to snow.

In 1986, he made the full-time 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 962 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 (above), 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.

He stayed with the team as it switched to Cosworth power for the 1988 season, joined by countryman Luis Perez Sala. He started the first two races but, after three non-qualifications in what was by then a packed entry list, 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 start that year, before retiring from active driving to form his own team.

Focusing initially on Spain’s growing Open by Nissan series, Campos Motorsport won the title with Marc Gene in 1998, Fernando 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 squad made a big step in 2007, powering Giorgio Pantano, who scored two wins, to third in the series. 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 led to a change of ownership and the team morphed into HRT before its first race weekend.

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Having gone back to the junior categories in Spain, Campos moved into the World Touring Car Championship 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.

Campos had a difficult first year under the new F2 rules in 2017, when a revolving door of drivers led to it giving 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 (above), 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.

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.”