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MARCH 6, 2000

Minardi - is Campos involved?

IT may just be a series of coincidences but there are various signs that former Grand Prix driver Adrian Campos may be involved in the plans to buy the Minardi team and move it to a new base in Spain. Officially the deal involves only the Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica but there are a surprising number of connections between Campos, Minardi and Telefonica.

Campos was a Minardi driver in Formula 1 in 1987 and 1988 with backing from the Spanish jeans company Lois. Since he retired from racing Adrian has been running a very successful Adrian Campos Motorsport team in the Open Fortuna by Nissan Championship single-seater championship in Spain. In the inaugural series in 1998 Campos's driver Marc Gene won the title and moved straight to Minardi in F1 last year with support from Telefonica. Last year's Open Fortuna champion was Fernando Alonso, another Campos driver, and he has just been named as the Minardi team test driver for the 2000 season. Telefonica and its mobile phone subsidiary Movistar have both been key sponsors in the development of the Open Fortuna series. In addition Campos's old sponsor Lois is back with Minardi this year.

In addition to all this, Campos comes from Valencia - his team is based at Alzira, just to the south of the city. In recent months there have been suggestions that the initial plan to base the Minardi team in Barcelona may have given way to plans to set up a factory with local government assistance at the new Circuit Ricardo Torma in Valencia.

Campos's initial ambition when he set up his team was to help young Spanish drivers to get to Formula 1. That has been achieved and it may be that Adrian is returning to an idea he had back in the early 1980s when he funded the establishment of a team called Avidesa, which ran Spanish-built Formula 3 chassis in the European Championship in 1983 and 1984. Avidesa - a huge ice cream and frozen chicken empire - was controlled at the time by the Suner Family. It has since been sold to the giant Swiss food company Nestle.

But that means that Adrian Campos Suner (to give him his full name) is not short of a few million dollars if investment is needed...