Former Minardi Formula 1 driver and team owner Adrian Campos has died at the age of 60.
The Spaniard made 17 starts for Minardi in the late 1980s, registering a best finish of 14th at his home event at Jerez in 1987 for a team with a dire reliability record. He also had one Le Mans entry to his name but it was in team management that he went on to make an even bigger impact, founding his own junior team in 1997 and racing in what was then Euro Open by Nissan with Campos Motorsport, giving Spanish talent its chance to shine.
His first champion was Marc Gene in 1998 and that was followed by Fernando Alonso a year later, before Antonio Garcia made it three titles in a row in 2000.
According to a statement released by Campos Racing, the team’s owner died from “sudden coronary disease”.
“One of the saddest days for the motorsports family,” Alonso posted on Instagram upon news of Campos’ death. “Driver and great promoter of this sport. Thank you for dreaming about Formula 1. Thank you for believing in young people. Thank you and rest in peace”
Gene also posted his own tribute on social media, saying: “Today an enormous sadness floods me.
“One of the people who have most helped motor racing in Spain has left us. Without Adrian, I would never have reached F1. Great driver, team principal and above all a very good person. My condolences to his children, family and friends.”
Following those early results and after also entering Spanish Formula 3 the team was renamed Campos Racing as it moved the GP2 Series in 2005, and continued to enjoy success.
Campos’ first victory in the series was delivered by Giorgio Pantano in 2007, before the pairing of Vitaly Petrov and Lucas di Grassi — a mid-season replacement for Ben Hanley — contributed to a teams’ championship win the following year.
After selling the GP2 team to now Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag, Campos was granted a Formula 1 entry with Campos Grand Prix — later changed to Campos Meta Racing — but amid financial difficulties his stake was bought out by majority shareholder Jose Ramon Carabante, who renamed the team Hispania (HRT) ahead of its 2010 debut. Despite no longer being involved, Campos had helped found the first Spanish team to race in F1.
He still had one team running in junior categories with an entry in the European F3 Open and returned his focus to expanding those operations, with Campos Racing appearing in GP2 and GP3 before its rebranding as Formula 2 and Formula 3 respectively. Among other championships, Campos was also involved in the operation of both the NEXTEV and Mahindra Racing efforts in Formula E for a number of seasons.
Lando Norris made his F2 debut for Campos at the end of the 2017 season, and after three years without a victory in the category, Jack Aitken gave Campos three wins in 2019 before being released by the team to make his F1 debut for Williams in Bahrain last year.
“Adrian, RIP,” Aitken wrote on Thursday morning. “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, and I’ll remember you smiling, talking about that move. My love to the Campos family.”