AUGUST 16, 2001
Three into two for Jordan
Alesi and Trulli will be paired up for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix for the first of five remaining races in 2001, but 37-year-old Alesi has claimed that he has a contract reaching beyond the end of this season and for the whole of 2002.
"Eddie called me to asked me if I was available until the end of the season," Alesi said last week. "In fact, I signed for 2002, as well. I am therefore racing for Jordan for the last grands prix of 2001, but I will also race for him in 2002."
Alesi, the most experienced driver in Formula 1, is unlikely to have made a mistake of that magnitude, even if he made one or two contractual errors in his early days in Formula 1. Back in 1990 the French Sicilian had contracts from Ferrari, Williams and others and eventually plumped for Ferrari, thereby missing out on his chance in the all-conquering Williams FW14 penned by Adrian Newey.
Meanwhile both Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella are said to be preparing for next season... at Jordan. The Italians have long been felt to be set to swap seats, with Trulli joining his mentor Flavio Briatore at Renault Sport while Fisichella returns to Jordan, for whom he drove in 1997.
"We found an agreement with Eddie after Hockenheim and it is now up to Renault to give us the possibility to stay with Jordan," said Trulli's manager Lucio Cavuto. "First we wanted to find a solution with Jordan, which we did, so it is up to Renault. I expect an announcement in Hungary."
According to Fisichella's manager Giancarlo Matteucci however, they too have been given the green light to finalize a deal with Jordan. "We are waiting until midnight on Thursday, because those are the terms of the option from Benetton," he said. "We have received an offer from Renault, one from Jordan, and there has been a discussion with Arrows."
It looks like something of a mess, particularly with the three drivers in question having mustered one solitary victory between them - that of Alesi in Canada six years ago. Waiting in the wings has been the exciting new talent of Takuma Sato, protege of Jordan's engine supplier Honda, and CART star Dario Franchitti, but now Jordan's line of attack through proven talent is clear - although quite who that is remains to be seen.