Erik Comas

In the 1980s France was producing new racing stars all the time, thanks to the success of the Elf scheme which took youngsters and helped them all the way to Formula 1 - if they showed that they deserved to be there.

Erik Comas began kart racing when he was 19 and switched to cars almost immediately, buying an old Renault 5 from a local driver called Jean Alesi. At the end of 1983 he won a place in the Volant Elf finals at Paul Ricard and later won the competition. He moved into Formula Renault in 1984 and finished fourth in the championship with one victory at Croix-en-Ternois. The following year he dominated the series with eight wins and Renault decided to move him to the factory team in the French Superproduction series. He won that title and then moved into Formula 3 with the Elf Winfield Team. He finished sixth in the championship in his learning year and then in 1988 won the French Formula 3 title. He moved up to Formula 3000 with DAMS in 1989, won two races (Le Mans and Dijon) and finished equal on points to champion Jean Alesi. He stayed on with DAMS in F3000 in 1990 and won the title, with four victories (Donington, Jerez, Monza and Le Mans).

Clearly the man of the moment, he was taken on by Ligier in 1991 to partner Thierry Boutsen using Lamborghini V12 power with the intention being to switch to Renault power in 1992. It was not a very successful period and Comas was a victim of it. In 1993 he moved to the Larrousse team, picking up a handful of World Championship points here and there. In 1994 he had the great misfortune to be at the scene of Ayrton Senna's accident at Imola from which he never really recovered. At the end of the year his F1 career fizzled out.

Subsequently Comas carved out a career for himself in Japanese sports cars, winning the All-Japan GT Championship in 1998 and 1999 as a Nissan works driver and was runner up in 2000. He also branched out into rallying, competing in various events around the world. In the years that followed he raced mainly in Japan, while also moving into the management of young drivers.