JUNE 14, 1999
Fisichella and Jordan
JORDAN GRAND PRIX is tipped to be trying to hire Benetton's Giancarlo Fisichella to replace Damon Hill next year. The 26-year-old Italian drove for Jordan in 1997 but then moved to Benetton. He has since had a very frustrating time. Fisichella is believed to have a commitment to Benetton for next season but there is little doubt that if Jordan is willing to pay, Fisichella could be released. There is not much point in Benetton trying to keep Fisichella if he wants to move elsewhere.
There remain several question marks over Hill. He says he has no intention of retiring despite the fact that he will be 39 in September. He is not enjoying the current season, finding the cars very difficult to drive and he has not been able to match the performances of his new team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Hill, however, is an important marketing weapon for Jordan's principal sponsor Benson & Hedges. Hill has a very high profile around the world and there is no doubt that Fisichella is not currently in the same league in terms of being a recognized public figure. Having said that the company's desire to continue to use Hill will undoubtedly weaken if he does not produce good results.
Jordan also needs to be sure of good results as the 2000 season will be of critical importance to Eddie Jordan's team. The operation will be using the new Honda V10 engine and, being a much more established team, is in a good position to score better results that Honda's factory team British American Racing. If Jordan can win races and BAR fails to impress it is possible that Jordan might be able to negotiate his way to become the Honda factory team when the BAR-Honda agreement ends at the end of 2002. That would also open the way for Jordan to sell the team to Honda - something he tried to do last year. And if all this sounds rather unlikely it should be remembered that in 1987 Honda had no qualms about leaving Williams to link up with McLaren.
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