Home Formula RegionalEurocup-3 Inside the expanding success of a Spanish single-seater stalwart

Inside the expanding success of a Spanish single-seater stalwart

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photos: Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Campos Racing is celebrating its 25th anniversary with strong results in the 2023 season, and with a clear mind about the future. Formula Scout got the full story from the race track, and at the factory

Founded by Adrian Campos Sr back in 1998, Campos Racing currently competes in five different categories having entered the inaugural seasons of both Eurocup-3 and F1 Academy this year. These add to its existing endeavours in Formula 4, Formula 3 and Formula 2, with the team having to redouble its efforts to cope with the increase in days on-track resulting from the two new series it is participating in, as well as the Formula Winter Series that took place earlier in the year.

Nevertheless, Campos has made the right steps and the expansion has not reduced its competitiveness. Indeed, the team is achieving its best results of recent years, winning races in all five categories it competes in and challenging for the title in three of them.

Adrian Campos Jr, who took over the role of team principal after the sudden death of his father in January of 2021, welcomed Formula Scout at the team’s headquarters. He discussed the present and the future of the team, as well as what is needed to keep current form and results going.

“It’s a situation that between two and three years ago, after what had happened, I would have never thought we would be in,” he confessed.

“The last meetings we had with my father were about what we should do in the next years and what we wanted to do. At that point [end of 2020], we were just competing in F3 and F2 and we wanted to grow, but grow down. We wanted to be in every step of the Formula 1 ladder. That’s what we have done, and I think we have been very successful in doing so.

“We are having great success in lower categories like F4 and the future comes from there. Pepe [Martí] is a clear example of that. Pepe was one of our first drivers in F4 and since then he has developed with us. He stepped up category and he is performing great in F3. So I believe the efforts of the whole team, will and hard work are now paying off.”

Photo: Spanish F4

Marti was third with Campos in Spanish F4 in 2021. After a tough maiden season in F3 in 2022, he is no stranger in the fight for top places now. His chances to be crowned 2023 champion are really slim and finishing second in the standings is his main target now. The Spaniard is currently third, one point behind Prema’s Paul Aron ahead of the season finale at Monza.

Campos Jr does not hesitate when he talks the future: “We want to consolidate what we are doing now and if possible, do it even better, and soon become one of the teams to beat in Europe.”

Strengthening the team’s current position is a priority before a further expansion can take place. The formula for that is a simple one: independent structures with one same base.

“Each team must work on its own. They must be different teams with the same work philosophy and people in charge, who are able to share the information needed between teams. However, the team personnel must be different for each team.

“This year, for example, the calendar of F1 Academy was released very late and it changed many times before the season started. Therefore, we had to change personnel for each round, like all the other teams, in order to get through the championship,” Campos Jr explained. “What I mean is that we need a team 100% devoted to F1 Academy, 100% devoted to Eurocup-3, 100% devoted to F4, F3 and F2 and that all of them work perfectly.

“Once we have the people, we might still need to refine some details. Nowadays, we know that we have the right people in the F3 and F2 teams. They are experienced, they know the car and the championship well and they work almost on its own. So that’s what I want for the new championships. Once we have achieved that, we can start thinking about other things. And that’s something I believe we can achieve next year,” Campos Jr affirmed.

Former F1 engineer Toni Cuquerella is the person responsible for setting the baseline all five Campos teams must follow. He was named chief technical officer ahead of the 2023 season, after spending over a year as team consultant. Cuquerella also sat with Formula Scout and spoke about his role within the organisation.

Photo: Campos Racing

“Campos is a team that has grown a lot this year; it is competing in five championships now,” he started, also explaining the reason why the team asked him to be more involved in 2023. “It is a total of 18 cars, 18 single-seaters, and we are already at 25 or 26 engineers and we are growing.”

“It’s a team where you already need to coordinate many championships. [Teams from] all championships must work the same way. That has to be transmitted especially to the new championships, both F1 Academy and Eurocup-3, where we have new people, people who are new to the team. We need to make sure that they all work in the same way – the Campos method if you like to call it like that.

“That is what I do. I also give some advice on set-ups and car preparation. Notwithstanding, there are of course people responsible for each championship who are more involved than I am and know all the details. But I’m always there helping in everything I can,” Cuquerella explained. “I advise them, I say ‘I like this, here I’d do it like this’. It’s having someone with some more experience.”

Cuquerella has worked not only in F1, but also in Formula E and DTM. He makes clear that a team like Campos, which competes in several championships at the same time, operates completely different to a team from those categories he has been in before.

“You cannot organise a junior series team like a Formula 1 team,” he stated. “Neither you have the resources nor the people and also the rules don’t allow you to do it. Trying to do it would be a mistake and it would also be impossible, but trying to replicate it [the organisation of an F1 team] here would be a mistake.

“Each championship has to have its own resources and working methods,” the former Ferrari and BMW Sauber engineer said. “There must be a common method, a baseline that establishes this must be done this way or calculated this way. However, each championship requires different details.

“It’s not the same a championship like F2, where you go into qualifying after just 45 minutes of free practice, and an F4 championship, where you can have up to four practice sessions of one hour on Thursday. Simulation is way more important in some championships than others; you must arrive better prepared at the track in championships where you have less practice time.”

Cuquerella highlighted the chance to swap personnel between championships in the case it were needed as one of the advantages of establishing one same basic work method for the whole team.

“In a company of 25 or 26 engineers, someone could be indisposed and you need to substitute that person. The main advantage of all working the same way is that you can find a replacement,” he said. “It’s going to be very easy to go from F2 to F3 or from F4 to F3, to make any change, as we try to use even the same computer settings, all as close as possible. Then each one has its own characteristics and peculiarities because each championship has more or less sensors in the car. But we try for the working methods to be the same in order to help transferring people.

“This is also a company where promotion has always existed and will continue to exist. There is a lot of people being promoted from the Master’s, where we recruit young team members and they go all the way up to F2, which is the biggest category we race in.”

In 2015, Campos set up the Master’s Degree in Motorsport, Engineering and Competition Car Maintenance, which is currently offered in collaboration with the university centre Florida Universitaria and has opened the doors of the motorsport world to many. The seminars are followed by a stage with the competition team, which allows the students to practice what they learned and provides them with actual working experience in motorsport.

The 2023 season has posed Campos an organisational challenge. However, Campos Jr assures that participating in the first seasons of both Eurocup-3 and F1 Academy was an opportunity they couldn’t miss. He is also convinced the team will be rewarded for it in the future.

Photo: Eurocup-3

“There have been moments of heavy workload and weekends when we have been racing in four championships like the [F2 and F3] Monaco weekend,” he said. “So at times, it has been a bit like who goes to each place. Sometimes I had to go from one place to another during the weekend, but that’s something we already knew before taking on these challenges.

“We believe Eurocup-3 was important because it’s a championship that can nourish us with drivers for F3. It’s another step because not all the F4 drivers can step up straight to F3. It was needed and I think we have been off to a brilliant start.”

Campos emerged victorious in five out of the eight races that formed the first half of the 2023 Eurocup-3 season, and its driver Esteban Masson leads the standings with a 35-point advantage over his nearest rival.

“Then the F1 Academy championship is one of those opportunities that arise; it’s a train you must take when it passes,” Campos Jr reckoned. “I think we have made the right decision.”

Campos has achieved one victory and multiple podium finishes in the first ever season of the all-female series supported by F1. Its driver Nerea Marti sits currently in fourth place in the standings with the last round yet to take place at Austin, the only one included on the F1 support bill in 2023. That is set to change in 2024, when all F1 Academy rounds will take place in F1 weekends. F1 teams are also set to display their liveries on one car each, increasing the support they give to the new series.

“It has been a very tough first season, where each time we are racing with a different championship,” Campos Jr explained. “Not broadcasting races live doesn’t help to secure sponsors, but we have done the job. We have secured the support of a bank like Mercantile.

“Next year, I think F1 Academy will be a great championship; it will make a massive step forward. We are going to race at amazing tracks always with F1 and F1 will offer huge support to the series. So I think F1 will recognise the effort of the five teams that took the risk in the beginning and came forward making the championship possible.”

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Campos Jr rules out joining other series in the near future as the team’s current target is “to have 100% under control” the effort of participating in five single-seater series. However, endurance racing could become an option for them in the medium to long term in order to provide opportunities for those drivers who have gone up the ladder to F2 but cannot make it to F1.

If that were to happen, Campos Jr wants endurance racing driver Antonio Garcia to be part of the project. Garcia was one of the team’s first drivers back in 1998 and is currently a consultant and shareholder of the team.

Whether it’s in GT’s or prototypes, endurance racing would be a completely new challenge for Campos, which apart from single-seaters has only otherwise taken part in touring car series. The World Touring Car Championship was its main programme in the discipline between 2013 and 2018, where the team achieved podiums and some occasional race victories.

“We have brought that up several times, but it is something we have never done in 25 years of history,” Campos Jr replied about the possibility of entering the world of endurance racing. “We specialise in single-seaters, that’s what we do well. At least, it’s what we are sure we do well. That [endurance racing] would be a completely new world to learn, which we will evaluate in the medium term. But what I can tell you now is that our best option to join the world of endurance racing is doing it together with Antonio Garcia.

“Antonio is still active in endurance racing and I hope he still has many years of racing ahead because he is in great form and driving extremely well. When he decides to call time on his career, then that might be the right moment to start in endurance racing together with him and doing so as best prepared as possible.”

Currently, Garcia “is not involved in the everyday life of the team, but I speak with him all the time,” Campos Jr affirmed. “He is up to date in everything and whenever he has some free time, he joins us at the track and puts his experience at the young drivers’ disposal.”

Garcia himself explained to Formula Scout how he became a shareholder of the team back in 2012, when Adrian Campos Sr performed a capital increase. He also described his role as team consultant and confirmed he plans to be involved in the team’s daily operations once he retires from racing himself.

“It was funny because we were kind of talking to each other about that [the capital increase]. And then once at some point I turned up and said ‘I mean, I probably should join the team somehow’. We didn’t think about that and Adrian was kind of surprised like ‘yeah, I mean there’s no better person. I wouldn’t like any other person to join the team other than you’. So that’s when we decided to start this new adventure even if I knew I couldn’t really be involved in the team. But our idea initially was to just get me in the loop and at some point once my career starts to decrease or starts to come to an end, my initial idea or Adrian’s idea was that I would more or less take over a few of the things he was doing,” Garcia explained.

“With him passing away, he kind of got us a little bit off guard. For sure we didn’t expect that. I was shocked by that, but the idea was for him to carry on as a team principal for another 10, 20 years and then probably I would, once my racing career was over, I would probably take over. But now that I feel that the team needed probably an extra push or extra help because the amount of work they have to reschedule between Adri [Campos Jr] and all the different members of the team, I felt that I had to also help as much as I could. I don’t know if I did enough or not, but I felt that I had to do something. And that’s why once in a while I come over, I follow along. Even if I’m not coming to the races, I kind of see or read all the reports.

“We’ll see once the time [of my retirement] comes and we’ll see where I might fit the best. I mean, what would be the best position for me to help as much as possible. I don’t think I need to have a specific role or a specific name in the team, but for sure when I stop racing or when I race less, maybe the idea or my initial idea would be to slowly get more and more involved in the team.

“All I can do [now] is come over, oversee what they’re doing and then give my opinion on if I would do something different or we could implement something different from my experience from other teams basically. That’s where I think I might be a little bit valuable,” he explains about his current contribution to Campos’ work.

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

“I don’t have time enough to follow the team day-by-day. But in a way, if I can come here, oversee how they do it, the way they do it. I might have just another point of view and that’s actually what I’m doing. I’m not doing anything specifically, I’m just here watching and if there is any chance of helping either the drivers or the actual engineers… I mean, the most important thing of a racing team, if it’s running smooth like this organisation, is the interaction between drivers and engineers. They need to work together and once they really blend together, that’s when I think the results come along.”

Garcia emphasised the importance of good communication, especially in series like F2 and F3 where on-track time is extremely limited and making the most out of it is crucial to deliver results. With that in mind, he places the spotlight on developing a strong relationship between drivers and engineers.

“I think it’s very important because normally off-season is different because you have a lot of track time. So you have kind of a lot of time in hand to work things out and so on. But when you come for an event or a weekend, the track time you have is very limited. So with only one free practice and one qualifying, everything is to run smooth, as soon as you have a little leak, it will get you.”

Despite having a wealth of experience under his belts, Garcia made clear that “I don’t want to force anybody to follow my advice” as he acknowledged the existence of different working methods. Nonetheless, he reckoned a different point of view always helps to better identify and solve any issues that may arise.

“I just give my opinion and then it’s up to them to either follow it or not,” Garcia, who advises both drivers and engineers, said. “I’m more on the side of the driver, so at times drivers are too much as a driver and engineers also, they are. In a way, I think it’s good to have an external person who has been in there, with a lot of experience, and kind of oversees how the whole interaction goes. If I feel I need to say something to a driver, I would say it. If I feel that I need to say something to the engineer side, I would. That’s the most complicated thing. The most important thing is that both sides work along as the flow needs to be as best as possible.”

Photo: Adria Roldan Murillo

Beyond its own racing endeavours, Campos has made its experience in motorsport available to different customers who have requested it. The team is keen to continuing doing so if there are opportunities for it, but it is not considering creating a specific working group for such purpose. Team principal Campos Jr explained why doing such a thing would not make sense.

“We haven’t set up an engineering division offering those services, but there have been other teams, smaller teams, and some companies that have subcontracted us engineering services to develop certain projects. We have done it with our engineers and I don’t think we need to have a specific department which focuses only on those projects because of that. The customers contacting us are looking for engineers with racing experience, not engineers focused on providing external services. Therefore, we are not thinking about creating such a department, but when there is the chance, we do offer those services.”

Moreover, Campos is currently working on the development of an online museum that bring the fans closer to the team’s history. Although there is not a launch date for it, a first version was available to be tested during the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year.

“We have started creating a virtual museum which is going to be accessible from wherever in the world just using a computer,” Campos Jr explained. “We aim for this museum to be free access and sell it to sponsors who can support the project. We want to make the most out of all the collection items we have here, both from my father’s career and the team.

“For now, we are creating this museum, but in the future we also want to have kind of a videogame in the metaverse and some NFTs of the team’s historical cars as well as the ones of my father’s personal collection.”