JANUARY 16, 2001
New Jordan-Honda EJ11 unveiled at Silverstone
THE first of the new generation, works Honda-engined Jordan F1 cars was unveiled at Silverstone today (Tuesday) just a stone's throw from the British team's factory and at the venue where the car will undergo its preliminary shakedown runs during the remainder of this week.
This may be the season when the laughing has to stop for Jordan who are under pressure to knuckle down and see off the challenge from the ever-improving rival BAR team with whom they share works Honda engines this season. History tells us that the Japanese car maker is a ruthless and uncompromising partner to have in the high-profile F1 world and few paddock insiders would bet on both teams surviving as Honda runners in the longer term.
Honda's previous track record serves as a reminder that both BAR nor Jordan would be wise to be wary when it comes to relying on the protection of a long-term engine supply contract. At the end of 1987, it will be recalled, Honda had no compunction about ditching its contract with Williams - which had another year to run - in favor of a new arrangement with Ayrton Senna and McLaren.
The upside is that Honda undoubtedly has the capacity and motivation to make what could be potentially be the very best F1 engine in the business - although they will have to go strain every sinew to compete on equal footing with Ilmor, the Mercedes-Benz F1 engine manufacturing subsidiary.
For the moment, however, at Silverstone yesterday, with drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli on hand, team boss Eddie Jordan was in characteristically upbeat mood. "I believe with Honda on board with us, we have the key elements in place to go all the way," he claimed.
The Jordan EJ11 is the team's first chassis built to incorporate the latest evolution Honda RA110E V10 engine similar to that which powered key rivals British American Racing to fifth place in last year's constructors' championship.
With that in mind, there has been a complete re-design of chassis and gearbox - a seven speeder replacing last year's six-speed unit - with the design emphasis slanted towards ensuring that the quest for performance does not compromise mechanical reliability.
The EJ11's profile reflects the effort of an enlarged aerodynamic development program the workforce of which has increased by 25 per cent since last August.
Front and rear suspension is in line with familiar F1 design philosophy, featuring push-rod operated Penske dampers while the car is equipped with Brembo brake calipers and a mix of Brembo and Hitco discs. Like BAR, Jordan has opted to retain its tire contract with Bridgestone for the new season.
Although much of the work on the new car was carried out by former chief designer Mark Smith before he opted to resign prior to joining his old boss Mike Gascoyne at Benetton, the technical side of the team is now operated by Tim Holloway who operates under the title Head of Engineering.
Holloway (49) joined Jordan in 1995, moving through the ranks from race engineer through chief engineer and on to his current role which he took up on Gascoyne's departure.
"My role is very much to manage people in their roles," says Holloway. "What matters most is team work, and it is my responsibility to ensure the right dynamics between the 53 people in the engineering department.
"The calibre of the people is very high and everyone has an important job to do to make the EJ11 a success. The key jobs are undertaken by John Iley, who's responsible for the aerodynamics, John McQuilliam, who is responsible for the rest of the car's design, and Mike Wroe on electronics."
Holloway added; "Honda have the potential to have the number one engine in F1, but we have to remember that our relationship with them is in its infancy. There is a lot of promise for the future. My ambition is to be with the team that wins races and that's what all of us in the design team are working for."
Meanwhile, team principle Eddie Jordan has brushed aside suggestions that he is not completely serious about the F1 business - even though the fact that he chose to address the issue clearly reveals a degree of sensitivity on the issue.
"I have been accused of not being a very serious operator," he said, "and that used to hurt. The truth is that I am very serious about racing and competing, but I also believe life is for living to the full.
"I know what we have achieved and when I look at Jordan's history, from our victories in Formula Ford, F3 and F3000, to our impressive results in F1, I feel very proud.
"I, and the team around me, believe in what we are doing."
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