DECEMBER 23, 1996
Mansell says no...
Mansell recently spent a day and a half testing for the Jordan-Peugeot team in Barcelona, setting times which were not much slower than those achieved by Jordan's new driver Ralf Schumacher.
"The idea of the test was originally to have some fun, but my natural competitive instincts took over very quickly and a return to F1 with Jordan Grand Prix became a serious possibility," said Mansell. The Englishman said that his schedule in 1997 "would not permit me to give sufficient time to the Jordan team and their sponsors". Jordan said that it had been an honor to have had Mansell in one of his cars.
"I believe Nigel can still be a winner," he said, "but I appreciate the honesty of his decision. The door will always be open for him at Jordan and we will continue to explore ways for him to have an involvement with the team."
The 43-year-old Mansell said during the testing that he did not consider himself to have retired from F1 and one can only assume therefore that Nigel did not feel that the drive had the potential to convince him that a comeback was a good idea.
Mansell's decision is another setback for Eddie Jordan as he tries to find a lead driver for 1997. Damon Hill and NigelÊMansell have both turned the team down and Eddie Jordan was unable to get Jean Alesi out of his Benetton contract. Martin Brundle is still available but it is clear that he is not considered to be the first choice.