Tall and scholastic-looking, the bespectacled Andrea began racing while still a law student, making his name driving for the works-backed Autodelta Alfa Romeo team in the European Touring Car Championship, which he won in 1966 at the wheel of a GTA coupe. On the back of this achievement he attracted Ferrari’s attention with some promising runs in an Alfa T33 sports car and was recruited to the F1 team for the non-championship 1967 Spanish GP which was held on the Jarama circuit just north of Madrid.
The following year Andrea was scheduled to drive full-time for Ferrari alongside Chris Amon and Jacky Ickx, but he crashed during practice for the Brands Hatch Race of Champions and suffered neck injuries which took a long time to heal properly. He returned to win the Argentine Temporada series the following winter with the powerful F2 Ferrari Dino 166.
In 1970 McLaren was offered the opportunity of experimenting with an Alfa V8, a possibly tempting alternative to the then-ubiquitous Cosworth DFV, and one of the Italian engines was installed first in an M7D chassis and latterly an M14D for de Adamich to drive. To say this technical combo achieved modest results would be a dramatic understatement. The McLaren-Alfa generally failed to qualify and when it did, could only muster 12th in the Austrian GP followed by a distant 8th place in front of the Alfa top brass at Monza. McLaren, still reeling from Bruce’s death that summer, reckoned that the Anglo-Italian alliance was all a bit of a waste of effort and called time on the partnership at the end of the season.
De Adamich took his Alfa engines off to the works March team in 1971, with absolutely no upsurge in their performance, so the Italian driver switched to Team Surtees in 1972 which at least got him back behind the wheel of a Cosworth-engined car, a step in the right direction.
For 1973 de Adamich switched to the Bernie Ecclestone-owned Brabham squad after driving for Surtees in the season opener at Kyalami. Sadly, his Brabham BT42 fell victim to Jody Scheckter’s first lap multiple shunt at the end of the opening lap of the British GP at Silverstone and this likeable Italian suffered serious injuries which brought down the curtain on his career.