DECEMBER 22, 2002
Negotiating moves at Jordan
The Jordan team seems to be pitching for a major Irish sponsor with suggestions that the team is considering signing up a young (and therefore cheap) driver with Irish links. The two names which have been mentioned are Richard Lyons and Ralph Firman (who is apparently Anglo-Irish). Firman won the Formula Nippon series in Japan this year and has been looking to move up to F1. He recently did a test with British American Racing. Lyons is an Ulsterman (which means that he is actually British rather than Irish) and has also been racing in Japan. The team has also confirmed that it is talking to British driver Anthony Davidson.
There are a variety of possible explanations for the stories circulating: it may be that there is a big Irish company which is in the picture although this does not really seem very likely as money is short across the world. It could be that the team is using the names of young drivers to try to force Eddie Irvine to bring down his price. Benson & Hedges would liked to have Irvine, who has the kind of profile that suits its marketing aims but the tobacco firm might be happy to settle for a youngster who will be hungrier and will push the team forward with results. This however would be a risk as young drivers have a lot to learn in F1 these days and experience is valuable. There is also a danger in putting a quick youngster in against Giancarlo Fisichella as the Italian has often shown himself to be susceptible to pressure in the past and he might not perform as well as the team needs him to do in 2003.
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