DECEMBER 18, 2002
Has Irvine signed for Jordan?
The suggestion that is doing the rounds in F1 circles is that Jordan has been forced to adopt his fall-back plan of doing a deal with Benson & Hedges (probably as a title sponsor once again) and that will require him to sign Eddie Irvine as B&H wants a high profile British driver to increase sales in the British market. Irvine and Jordan have worked together in the past and with Irvine having no other choices if he wishes to stay in F1, the negotiations have been slow as Irvine has been trying to earn as much as possible and Jordan has been trying to keep the driver's salary to an absolute minimum. The deal with Bernson & Hedges is believed to be worth a minimum of $15m to Jordan and so the Brazilians Enrique Bernoldi and Felipe Massa have been struggling to raise the same kind of money. Bernoldi has some backing from Red Bull (as usual) but there are no signs that this will lead to a big sponsorship with the Austrian drinks company, which remains keen on buying its own F1 team.
Irvine has been keeping a low profile, hanging out in Miami, and leaving the negotiations up to his manager Enrico Zanarini.