JULY 25, 2001
Frentzen out of Jordan. Will Toyota pick him up?
HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN could switch to the Toyota F1 team next season after his summary firing from the Jordan-Honda squad earlier today. It is being speculated that the German driver, who has won three Grands Prix during his career, would give the fledgling Japanese F1 operation a worthwhile boost as it prepares for its race debut in 2002.
Certainly, the decision by Jordan to ditch Frentzen after a blazing row at Silverstone leaves many questions unanswered.
Immediately after the race Jordan commented acidly "it seems that seventh place was the best Heinz-Harald could achieve today" yet nobody anticipated that he would drop his driver in the middle of the season.
Having indulged Damon Hill during a dismal final season at the wheel of one of his cars during 1999 due to pressure from title sponsors Benson & Hedges, many observers understandably amazed that the commercially astute Jordan should risk compromising his 15 million pound sponsorship from Deutsche Post World Net by terminating Frentzen's contract before their home race.
Observers also made the point that Jordan took an unyielding line with Frentzen which he did not dare take with Hill despite the fact that the 1996 world champion displayed far worse form that Frentzen who currently lies eleventh in the world championship with six points, has done over the first eleven races of the current season.
Although both parties have been debarred by the lawyers from officially commenting on the matter, it is known that Jordan have become frustrated by Frentzen's dwindling form over the past few races and, in particular, his crashes at both Monaco and in practice at Montreal.
The 34-year old German driver, who has won two races for Jordan since joining the team in 1999, yet has had his contract terminated only three weeks after Jordan reaffirmed that he would remain with them next season to see out the second year of his current two year contract.
Frentzen has also been out-qualified convincingly at ten of the eleven races by his team-mate Jarno Trulli who was eliminated from the Silverstone race ten days ago while battling for third place with David Coulthard's McLaren going into the first corner.
One formula one insider commented; "Jordan are clearly there to try to win, and this is what this matter is all about. But you're bound to wonder why Eddie felt it was necessary to fire him on the eve of Hockenheim. It doesn't make total sense."
Frentzen's place in the team for the balance of the season will be taken by Ricardo Zonta, the Jordan team's test driver. Eddie Jordan will now be free to make arrangements for 2002 for a long-term replacement.
Jaguar also might be keen to sign Frentzen as the German market is currently a major target for its new model range of X-type sports saloons.
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