Philippe Adams

The struggling Lotus team surprised many in 1994 by signing Philippe Adams for the Belgian and Portuguese grands prix.

Adams’ route to F1

In British Formula 3, during arguably its most competitive era, Adams was second in the 1992 championship. However this was his fourth year in F3 and third in the British series.

From there he moved to British Formula 3000 in 1993, where Adams claimed the title, albeit against a much less competitive field.

In 1994 Adams initially scale down his racing, moving into the Belgian Procar series where he was very competitive. However after the investment in his career to date this hardly represented a logical next step in the move into F1.

Meanwhile, by mid-1994 the once-great Lotus team were in a similar mess. In Johnny Herbert they had a quick and committed driver. But the well-heeled Pedro Lamy was out for the season following a massive Silverstone testing shunt. That opened the door for Adams’ unlikely debut.

1994: Lotus

Thanks to some changeable weather in qualifying Adams scraped onto the grid in 26th place, out-qualified by Christian Fittipaldi who set his time on a soaked track, but didn’t actually take his place on the grid, instead preferring the 27th place slot behind Jean-Marc Gounon’s Simtek.

For the following 16 laps Adams duly followed the Simtek around, even waiting at La Source for Gounon to recover from a spin. On lap 16 he spun and parked his car in a gravel trap.

Alessandro Zanardi was given the nod for the Italian Grand Prix, but by the time Portugal rolled around Adams was back in the Lotus.

He qualified, two seconds adrift of Herbert. In the race Adams finished 16th and last, four laps adrift. Although contracted for the European Grand Prix at Jerez, Lotus reinstated Zanardi instead, and with that Adams’ short spell in F1 was over.

Subsequently Adams moved full time into Procar and Sportscar racing where he has competed with some success.