MARCH 4, 1996
...and tests Morbidelli
THE Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team completed its final test before Australia at Silverstone on Thursday with Gianni Morbidelli shaking down the three cars to be used in Melbourne - in their new gold livery. The team has admitted that there are negotiations for Morbidelli to become the team's test and reserve driver.
The job of Jordan test driver has been the subject of considerable speculation in recent months with the deal initially expected to go to Peugeot Sport's nominee Emmanuel Collard. The removal of Jean-Pierre Jabouille as boss of Peugeot Sport put paid to Collard's campaign and he began talks with Tyrrell - which is keen to have the young Frenchman.
Jordan was then linked with Vincenzo Sospiri - he signed a testing deal with Benetton - and then with Fabrizio de Simone, who is the son of the boss of Uliveto - one of Jordan's smaller sponsors.
With the impending Benson & Hedges deal, however, the team held off naming a test driver. With the cash in the bank, however, the team was free to choose whoever it liked. Morbidelli, one of F1's really underrated talents, appears to have been the first choice.
Gianni made his F1 debut with Scuderia Italia six years ago, but he is still only 28. He spent 1990 and 1991 test driving for Ferrari and racing for Minardi in the second of the two years. He drove for Ferrari at Adelaide in 1991, after the team had fired Alain Prost, and finished sixth. He went back to Minardi in 1992 but was then dropped and spent 1993 racing in Italy. He returned to F1 with Arrows in 1994 - a much wiser character - and stayed with the team for two seasons, ending his career with third place in Adelaide last year - his best career finish.
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