CONSTRUCTORS: JORDAN GRAND PRIX

Name: Jordan Grand Prix

Narain Karthikeyan, Spanish GP 2005

Narain Karthikeyan, Spanish GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

Eddie Jordan was an Irish racing driver who raced in the British Formula 3 Championship in 1979, but without money he struggled and so in 1980 he established Eddie Jordan Racing and ran cars for customer drivers. It was not easy and Jordan struggled to survive. In 1981 he signed a deal to run a youngster called David Sears, who later would become the boss of the Supernova Formula 3000 team. In 1982 he fielded cars for various drivers in Britain but it was James Weaver who gave the team its first victories in the European Championship events at Donington Park, Nogaro and Jarama. That same year Jordan gave Ayrton Senna his first run in a Formula 3 car.

Success resulted in expansion and the team ran two-car operations in Britain and Europe with Martin Brundle the leading driver in the British series (his team mate was Canadian Allen Berg) and Tommy Byrne the team leader in Europe. Brundle scored six wins but lost the British title to Senna, while Byrne won twice and finished fourth in the European Championship. In 1984 Berg was runner-up in the British series with David Hunt as his team mate, while American Davy Jones raced in Europe - although without much success. The 1985 season was to be difficult. The European F3 Championship had been cancelled and so Jordan ran a car in France for Dominique Delestre (who would later establish the Apamatox Formula 3000 team). In Britain Harald Huysman and Steve Harrington failed to deliver the results expected. They were both fast but had a lot of accidents. Jordan also ran a car in the new Formula 3000 for Belgian Thierry Tassin.

Things improved in 1986 with Maurizio Sandro Sala winning races in Britain and finishing second in the series while the French F3 and F3000 programs were less successful.

The team would make a big impact the following year with Johnny Herbert scoring five British wins to win the title. Jordan decided to expand in Formula 3000 and signed Herbert to drive alongside Thomas Danielsson. Herbert won his first race and was looking a strong challenger for the championship when he suffered serious leg injuries in an accident at Brands Hatch. Danielsson had been replaced by Martin Donnelly and he took up where Herbert had left off. Jordan continued to field cars in British F3 for driver Paul Warwick (brother of Derek) and Jason Elliot.

The 1989 season saw Donnelly joined by Jean Alesi and it was the Frenchman who won the title. There were further successes for Andrew Gilbert-Scott in the British F3000 series and in F3 with Rickard Rydell. Success in F3000 convinced Jordan that he must try for F1 and did a deal for Gary Anderson to design an F1 car for him. Jordan abandoned British F3 and ran three cars in the European Formula 3000 series for drivers Eddie Irvine, Emanuele Naspetti and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Irvine won one race and finished third in the series. At the start of 1991 Jordan Grand Prix revealed its plans with 7Up sponsorship, Ford customer engines and drivers Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot. In Formula 3000 Jordan ran cars for Damon Hill and Sospiri.

The F1 program was a big success with the team finishing the year fifth in the Constructors' Championship, despite the fact that Gachot disappeared at midseason when he was jailed on an assault charge. He was replaced at the Belgium GP by Michael Schumacher but Jordan let the new star slip through his fingers when he switched straight over to Benetton to replace Roberto Moreno. Moreno himself drove for Jordan in both the Italian and Portuguese GPs, but was then replaced by another new rising star called Alex Zanardi.

The team had been a success but financially the company was precarious. In order to save money Jordan did a deal to run Yamaha engines and found sponsorship from Barclay (which had supported the F3000 team the previous year). The team moved into a new 2m factory and there were high hopes for drivers Stefano Modena and Mauricio Gugelmin. Things did not go well and at the end of the year Jordan did a deal to run Hart V10 engines in 1993 for drivers Rubens Barrichello and Ivan Capelli. Backing was found from Sasol. Capelli disappeared early in the year and was replaced by a string of others culminating in Suzuka with Eddie Irvine, who did an impressive job on his F1 debut. Barrichello and Irvine were retained for the 1994 season and Barrichello gave the team its first podium finish at Aida. That year the team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship again.

This led to the chance for Jordan to have Peugeot engines in 1995 and with Irvine and Barrichello staying on much was expected. It was, however, another frustrating year and Irvine was lured away to partner Michael Schumacher at Ferrari. Jordan hired Martin Brundle. The results improved and at the end of the year the team landed a big sponsorship deal from Benson & Hedges which enabled the team to expand. The drivers remained the same but results were rather disappointing although the team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship again. At the end of the year both drivers departed and the team signed youngsters Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher. It was a promising year but the team had outgrown Peugeot and for 1998 did a deal to use Mugen Honda engines. Damon Hill was lured to partner Schumacher.

The result of this was that the team became more and more competitive and after an extraordinary race in Belgium, Hill came home to win the team its first F1 victory - with Schumacher second. By then, however, Anderson had departed and Mike Gascoyne had been hired to design the 1999 car.

As the team was preparing for the new season Jordan announced that he had sold a 40% shareholding in the team to venture capitalist company Warburg, Pincus & Co.

Schumacher decided to join Williams and so Jordan hired Frentzen. Hill stayed on but was overshadowed as Frentzen did a remarkable job to win the French and Italian GPs. Frentzen finished third in World Championship - with Jordan third in the Constructors' title.

At the end of the year Hill retired and Jordan hired Jarno Trulli to partner Frentzen in 2000. The team added to its budget with a major new sponsorship deal from Deutsche Post but it was a disappointing year although Jordan made a big breakthrough by getting an agreement to use Honda factory engines in 2001. The team lost a lot of engineers in the course of 2000 including technical director Mike Gascoyne but began 2001 by hiring Egbahl Hamidy from Arrows. The team also brought Gary Anderson back as director of race and test engineering. But there were still problems and Hamidy departed early in 2002 to be replaced by Henri Durand. The team was now running short of money and a large number of staff, including managing-director Trevor Foster and engineers Tim Holloway and David Brown left the team. Eddie Jordan announced that he would be playing a much bigger role in the future. The winter of 2002-2003 was a tough one for the team with fears that the team would not be able to find the budget for 2003 but the team appeared with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman and Fisichella gave Jordan a surprise win in Brazil in very unusual circumstances. It was not enough to stop the decline in the team's fortunes and in 2004 Fisichella and pay-drivers Giorgio Pantano and Timo Glock struggled to be competitive. That winter Eddie Jordan sold out to Russia's Midland Group. The team retained the Jordan name for 2005 with drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro and at the end of the year was transformed into a new team called MF1 Racing, bringing to an end the colourful history of the Jordan name in F1.

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