Philippe Adams

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Last updated: 4-April-2001


Biography

Before Formula One Formula One After Formula One

Before F1
1981-89

31st overall in Opel Lotus, takes to British F3

Born in Mouscron, Belgium, Philippe Adams began racing karts in 1981, and first drove in car races in 1984. In 1988 he drove in the European Opel Lotus championship, coming a glorious 31st overall. The same year, in the British Vauxhall Lotus series he came 8th with three 3rd places at Thruxton, Silverstone and Donington.

In 1989 he competed in British F3 in a Bowman Racing Ralt RT33 with a VW Speiss engine, finishing 6th in the championship with one win at Brands Hatch and two 2nd place finishes at Silverstone and the Birmingham Superprix. In total, he scored 23 points, and in the overall standings beat Mika Hakkinen, Alain Menu, Paul Stewart, Mika Salo and Paul Warwick.

1990-91

Lacklustre year followed by no luck in Japan

Continuing in the same team, with the same car/engine combination, he failed to improve on his overall placing in 1990, only managing two more runner-up finishes at Brands Hatch and Donington. This was the season dominated by both Hakkinen and Salo, and which also featured the likes of Steve Robertson, Christian Fittipaldi and Peter Kox. Indeed, when Adams came 2nd at Brands, he was sandwiched by Hakkinen and Robertson, and his result came courtesy of retirements by both Salo and Kox who had been leading.

Going to Japan in 1991 did little to further Adams' career. He was only 12th in the local F3 series, and his forays into Japanese touring cars and F3000 were equally unsuccessful. Indeed, his only entry in Japanese F3000 netted him a solid DNQ.


Having taken victory at Silverstone, Adams celebrates on the podium alongside Gil de Ferran and Mikke van Hool. Philippe would finish an excellent 2nd in the title chase.
Having taken victory at Silverstone, Adams celebrates on the podium alongside Gil de Ferran and Mikke van Hool. Philippe would finish an excellent 2nd in the title chase. Picture thanks to Tom Prankerd.

1992-93

Takes the runner up spot in F3, including a win or two

After this dud career move, in 1992 he returned to British F3, driving for Alan Docking Racing in a Ralt RT36 with a Mugen engine. It turned out to be an inspired choice, Adams taking two wins at Brands Hatch and Silverstone en route to 2nd in the title chase behind Gil de Ferran, although admittedly he scored little more than half the Brazilian's total. Still, he finished ahead of Kelvin Burt, Mikke van Hool, Marc Goossens, Warren Hughes, Elton Julian, future CART star Andre Ribeiro, Pedro Diniz and current BTCC hero Jason Plato. Adams also came 9th at the Marlboro Masters F3 race at Zandvoort.

Stepping up to British F2 in 1993, Adams continued his winning ways, victorious in five rounds, at Oulton Park, Silverstone, Brands, Donington and Thruxton, eventually taking the title over Van Hool. But it was not without drama.

1993-94

Wins title after appeal, brief fling in DTM

Originally entered by Madgwick International in a Reynard 92D/Cosworth, he fell out with the team, and switched to Argo Racing with its older Reynard 91D. He was then only awarded the title after an appeal. Moving in a new direction, in 1994 Adams turned his attentions to the Belgian Procar Championship, taking a win in an Audi in a Belgian GP support race (see below), and coming close to the title.

He also competed twice in the German Touring Car Championship without success. But the shadow of that fall-out with Madgwick in 1993 still hung over him. Tom Prankerd tells us that at one stage, bailiffs even seized his Nissan road car, and court injunctions almost cast into doubt Adams' chance in Formula One.


Adams was making a name for himself in the Belgian Procar Championship - but his stunningly brilliant victory in Spa's horrendous conditions would be his only win all year.
Adams was making a name for himself in the 1994 Belgian Procar Championship - but his stunningly brilliant victory in Spa's horrendous conditions would be his only win all year.

Formula One
1994
Lotus

Money, money, money - it's a rich man's world

As Alan Jones cynically but correctly pointed out on Australian TV, despite Adams' 10 years of car-racing experience (and admittedly some good results), ultimately it was his big wallet that earned him an F1 drive with cash-strapped Lotus for his home GP at Spa in 1994, in the place of Alessandro Zanardi.

It was rumoured that he was bringing some half a million dollars to the team. Adams was signed on also for the Portuguese GP at Estoril and the European GP at Jerez. Of much interest to the paddock was how Adams was paying for his drive. He was doing so through firstly an insurance policy taken out against his Belgian Procar results.

Hear Australian commentator Darrell Eastlake and 1980 F1 World Champion Alan Jones discussing Adams' F1 debut at Belgium.

"I don't wish to seem cynical, but 10 years and a big wallet, perhaps."
(.MP3 format, 372k, 24 secs)

1994

Daddy's money looked shaky

His second funding avenue was through family support, especially through his father's companies, and other sponsors. But throughout the weekend there were negative rumours regarding the health of his father's businesses, and other companies wanted their sponsorship logos removed.

Now, when someone doesn't want exposure via F1 sponsorship, even if the logo requires a magnifying glass to read, you know that that particular driver/team isn't worth it. Prior to his debut, all Adams had in terms of F1 experience was 66 test laps in the Lotus at Silverstone.


Adams made little impression on the F1 paddock - but he did win a support race in the wet in his Audi!
Adams made little impression on the F1 paddock - but he did win a support race in the wet in his Audi! Picture thanks to Mikhail Prizov.

1994

Upteen spins in difficult conditions at daunting Spa

Now, the Lotus 109 with its Mugen engine was not an easy car to come to terms with at the best of times, but Adams got an even more raw deal when both days of practice at Spa were marred by rain. Whatever local track knowledge he had was of little use, especially since he was still caught up discovering the limits of the car.

Half an hour into free practice on Friday morning, he smashed the car against the pit wall on the front straight, having suddenly lost grip. This was just one of "umpteen spins" in practice, according to the BBC's Dr. Jonathan Palmer. Three of those came in the wet morning warm-up, including another rear-ender into the pit wall.

1994

Blitzes Procars, but last on the F1 grid

Anyway, Adams managed to sneak onto the grid in 26th and last place. Then, in the Procar race on Saturday, in heavy rain, using the 4WD on his Audi 80, he absolutely destroyed the field, winning by 27 seconds. At least that insurance policy looked OK, then. The F1 race in sunny conditions was nothing special, though.

Comically, Adams failed to place his car at his proper grid slot after the warm-up lap, instead taking station behind the 25th-placed Simtek of Jean-Marc Gounon. Usually this means an aborted start, but do you think they cared on this occasion? Not a chance. Adams spent his afternoon touring around behind Gounon, and was temporarily held up when the latter spun.


Adams trying to get to grips with his Lotus in practice for the Belgian GP. Here he is entering the revised Eau Rouge chicane.
Adams trying to get to grips with his Lotus in practice for the Belgian GP. Here he is entering the revised Eau Rouge chicane. Picture from 8w.

1994

Oh no!
He's baaack!

Later, when being lapped by Rubens Barrichello's Jordan, he got off-line approaching Pouhon, missed his braking, oversteered and spun out of the race on his 16th lap, right in front of the cameras. Zanardi resumed his seat in Italy, when Portugal came around once again Adams was in Lotus number 11.

But after the drama of his F1 debut, anyone expecting more shenanigans were severely disappointed. He qualified 25th, under 5 seconds off Gerhard Berger's pole time, and about 2 seconds away from Lotus team-mate Johnny Herbert.

1994

Drive goes back to Zanardi

He was about 0.3 in front of Gounon, but well clear of the floundering Pacifics. In the race, he trailed the field uneventfully, coming in 16th and last, 4 laps down. Gounon got ahead of him early, and by the end of the event was some 23 seconds up the road.

Although he was contracted for the next race in Jerez, Lotus decided to give the seat back to Zanardi, and that was it as far as Adams was concerned in F1. For once, money was not enough to cover up terribly mediocre performances.

After F1
1995-96

Adams not V good with V de V

In 1995, he again raced in Belgian Procars in his Audi 80, coming 3rd overall, taking 4 wins in a row during the middle of the championship, 2 each at Zolder and Colmarberg. There were also two 3rd places at other Zolder races, plus two 3rds, a 4th and a 6th at races at Spa.

In 1996, he dabbled in sports car racing in the BPR Global GT Endurance Championship. Here he got involved in an ill-fated project run by the 'V de V' team of Frenchman Eric van de Vyver. This featured a car designed by Tony Gillet called the Vertigo, a 900kg-contraption with a 500hp engine. Van de Vyver signed up Adams to co-drive with him.


Adams in his Audi on his way to a double victory at Zolder in the Belgian Procar Championship in 1995.
Adams in his Audi on his way to a double victory at Zolder in the Belgian Procar Championship in 1995.

1996-97

Total disaster, makes a return at Dijon

After gearbox problems delayed the car's debut, the team finally got into the action at the Jarama round in Spain in the GT2 class, but the car failed to make it to the finish. After another equally unsuccessful attempt at Silverstone, the project was abandoned altogether. However, Adams did make another appearance in a non-championship round of that series, joining Jose Close in a Dodge Viper at Dijon, but there the pair also failed to finish.

Also, beginning in 1996 and continuing into 1997, thanks to Stephen Herbert we now know that Adams raced in the International Group N Series driving a BMW M3. This was a European championship featuring mainly gentlemen drivers, but it also included F1 reject Dieter Quester. Philippe did have some success, taking victory at Magione in Italy with Martin Wagenstetter.

1998-99

Sets class lap record at monster Nurburgring

1998 saw Adams compete in Veedol Long-Distance Cup production sports car racing in Germany. In an 1850cc BMW 318ti Compact, shared with Wagenstetter, he set a lap record for his class at the old Nurburgring, with a time of 10 minutes 12.75 seconds, breaking the previous record by a second, at an average speed of 140.116 km/h. In that particular race, round 6 of the series, he was 1st in class. There was another class victory later on in round 9, but that was overshadowed by the death of a fellow competitor.

In 1999, Adams raced in the Nurburgring 24hr touring car race, entering in a yellow BMW M3 for the East Belgian Racing team with Damien Chaballe, plus other drivers Spadacini and Lüttecke. Then in November, he drove a BMW M3 touring car in the Vallelunga Silver Cup 6hr race, sharing the car with Harry Handkammer and Thomas Jakobitsch, but the car retired at half-distance.


Adams at the Nurburgring in the Ferrari 355 which he has been racing throughout 2000.
Adams at the Nurburgring in the Ferrari 355 which he has been racing throughout 2000.

1999-2000

Continues Veedol Long Distance with Ferrari 355

During that year, Adams also participated in a series of celebrity races in Belgium, which placed various Belgian and Dutch drivers in different machines, from Procars to karts. Apart from Adams, those drivers included rally stars Freddy Loix and Bruno Thiry, open-wheeler aces David Saelens and Marc Goossens, and others such as Thierry Tassin and Vincent Radermecker.

2000 saw Adams continue in the Veedol Long-Distance Cup, where he upgraded to a black Ferrari 355, at times shared with Manfred Daiser, with an engine prepared by Franz Engstler. He was meant to race at the Nurburgring 24hr race in an MHT Sports Renault Clio 3.0L, but was replaced a week before the race. On a personal note, Adams is married to Christine, and has one son, by the name of Axel.

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