The 'family' values that helped Campos Racing survive tragedy


The tragic death of Adrián Campos looked like it might spell the end for his influential team, but now his son – Adrián Jr – is leading the squad's fightback and expansion

Adrian Campos Jr Campos Racing team principal

Adrian Campos Jr has taken over at the helm following his father's passing

Campos Racing

Few teams have been on such a journey as Campos Racing, with its hugely significant influence on the world of motor sport undeniable.

The Spanish junior outfit, which gave a leg up to future F1 legend Fernando Alonso and 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou, amongst many others, endured tragedy two years ago when its founder – former F1 driver Adrián Campos – died suddenly at the age of 60.

The tributes poured in from the likes of Alonso, Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gene, with the team founder’s son Adrian Campos Jr now telling Motor Sport that the event rocked the outfit like an “earthquake”, uncertain it could continue without its leader.

In 2022 though, the team’s recovery from that tragic event is well under way: under the guidance of Campos Jr, the squad has just been announced as one of the entrants in F1’s all-female F1 Academy championship and has another as-yet announced series entry in the works, with its F2 and F3 teams also on the up.

Adrian Campos portrait

Campos team was rocked by detah of its founder Adrián, threatening its demise

Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

It’s all part of the squad’s attempts to “grow down” and create a complete ladder to F1 – with a future WEC team also on the cards and a “never-say-never” attitude to resurrecting his father’s F1 dream “which had turned to a nightmare” 12 years ago.

Two years after suffering such a loss, Campos explains how he and his father’s employees regrouped.

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“It was like an earthquake,” he says of Campos Sr’s death. “With the passing of my father, it was very difficult to stabilise the company and, at the same time, make it grow.

“Of course, when this kind of thing happens, you always think about what is the worst scenario that you can face, and obviously a lot of people thought that the company was not going to continue. Having responsibility for that many employees is a heavy weight.

“This was in January 2021, and we still had a lot of driver contracts to sign. It was very challenging to do so with the passing of my father, with the thoughts that all the drivers and managers had about us, and I totally understand – he was the face of the team.

“We went through the year, let’s say, quite successfully for what it was looking like at the beginning. And then we just improve in the following year, everything went a lot better.”

Campos points to two main factors in the team’s survival last year, leading on to an uplift in results with podiums from Ralph Boschung in F2 and a win for Davide Vidales in F3 this season.

Adrian Campos with Fernando Alonso

Campos guided Alonso’s early career, along with other champions like Alex Palou

Fernando Alonso via Twitter

“We’re like a family,” he says. “We’ve had all the people working here for a long time, some from the beginning, this is this was one of our luckiest points.

“Next year will be our 25th anniversary, and the commitment is really high because this is part of them. So without them, of course, we couldn’t move forward, but we did. I’m very proud of everyone in the team.

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“To be honest, we already had a plan: we want to grow as a team but let’s say ‘grow down’ into the lower categories.

“When my father passed away, I was already working almost 10 years next to him, helping him in everything that I can, managing the drivers, giving a hand, listening, learning.

“We were getting ready for the next steps, he was handing over responsibilities – he wanted to enjoy racing in a different way and relax a bit – we just never thought that it was going to be so early.”

Through the difficult early results of 2021 to the setbacks of this season, when a neck injury derailed a promising F2 campaign for Boschung, Campos often thinks back to the advice of his father.

“When something was not going as planned, and I was very nervous complaining to him, he was always answering me with the same with the same sentence: ‘Let the things fall by its own weight.’

Ralph Boschung Campos Racing F2 2022

Ralph Boschung scored podiums in F2 team last year before injury

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“This is translated from Spanish, meaning give everything the time that it needs, and everything will go to its own place – it will be fine.”

Though Campos is set to become an integral part of making the F1 ladder more accessible for women, the team’s new leader has ideas for how things can be further improved for up and coming talent.

“I have always said that we should move a little within the direction of MotoGP,” he emphasises.

“Moto2 and Moto3 get a lot more promotion. In our world, the races are very early and it looks like everything revolves around F1.

“We could have the races closer together, get just a little bit more of support with TV rights like they do in MotoGP.

“We could therefore also attract more sponsors, and help the best drivers achieve their goals [instead of taking pay drivers].”

With the team having also raced in Formula E for five years and the World Touring Car Championship, the possibility of more top-tier championships hasn’t left the mind of Campos – even resurrecting his father’s F1 dream with the series embracing the cost-cap era.

“Never say never because you don’t know what will happen in the future,” he admits.

“Let’s say at the moment, we need to do what we are doing a little bit better, stabilise and then look at other projects.

David Vidales F3 Campos Racing 2022

David Vidales scored a win in F3 for Campos in 2022 – now it expands into other categories whilst looking to consolidate in those it already competes

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“It’s very, very difficult because F1 is an experience that we already had. In 2010, we got the entry, but we didn’t find the money, so it was a complete nightmare for my father and all the team.

“I can also not say no to different categories like endurance – it’s a door we have open. The first driver that we ever had in this team is Antonio Garcia, back in ’98.

“He‘s now very successful in endurance. He will get mad with me if he reads this, but he’s getting quite old already!

“He’s already a partner in the company. If we want to go into endurance, probably we will do it together with him as he has all the experience, the contacts and everything that we need to go into this world. It’s possible in the mid-term.”