Happy birthday to Philippe Adams, who turns the big 40 today!
Most of you are probably going, "who?"
Born in Belgium, Adams was runner-up in the 1992 British F3 championship, and went on to win the following year’s British F2 championship.
In 1994, he moved to the Belgian Procar Championship, taking victory by 27 seconds in horrendous conditions in the support race for that year’s Belgian F1 race, where he also made his F1 debut for the financially struggling Lotus team, temporarily replacing Alessandro Zanardi.
As 1980 Champion and then-commentator, Alan Jones, cynically (but accurately, it must be said) pointed out on Australian TV, despite Adams’ 10 years of car-racing experience with a smattering of good results, ultimately it was a large wallet that earned him an F1 drive with Lotus for his home GP. He was rumoured to be bringing some $500,000 in backing to fund his appearances at the Belgian and Portuguese Grands Prix.
At the Belgian GP, he scraped onto the grid in 26th position after a multitude of practice spins and crashes, started from the wrong grid slot and spun off the track on lap 16 when being lapped. He managed one spot better in qualifying for the Portuguese GP and then finished 16th, 4 laps down, in the race.
Although he was contracted for the next race at Jerez, Lotus decided to give the seat back to Zanardi, and Adams’ brief F1 foray was over. Clearly, a big wallet was not enough to cover up some quite mediocre performances.
Adams dropped from sight again into national saloon car categories, and has little major success since.
Here’s hoping you’re having a great 40th, Philippe, whatever you may be doing!