FEBRUARY 3, 2004
Putting one's Trust in Jordan
Jordan and Jos Verstappen have apparently not been able to reach an agreement but that did not stop the team rolling out the new EJ14 at Silverstone yesterday with Trust logos on the car. This was not a mistake and one can only conclude that either Jordan has a deal with Verstappen's sponsor or that it is trying to lure the firm back into talks. With Nick Heidfeld signed up there is only one seat left open and Eddie Jordan has Jos Verstappen and Benson & Hedges vying for the space on the car. B&H is willing to spend an extra $6m if Jordan takes a British driver. There are several available to him. Verstappen is believed to have a considerable amount more sponsorship if a deal can be struck but Jordan and his manager Michel Perridon cannot agree terms. In the end, however, it is likely that money will talk.
Jordan needs to look to the long-term future and is already planning for 2005 and beyond. It is thought that the deal with Heidfeld is somehow linked to Mercedes-Benz engines in the future and one could speculate that a revived Jordan with Mercedes engines might be a place for Mercedes-Benz to put David Coulthard next year, a move which would make Jordan much more interesting for Benson & Hedges, which has wanted a topline British driver ever since Damon Hill retired from the scene. Thus it might be worth Jordan keeping Benson & Hedges sweet for one more year and hen trying to get a bigger and better deal for the longer-term, all assuming that the issue of tobacco sponsorship can be sorted out. The impression at the moment is that Formula 1 teams are going to go on using tobacco money beyond the much-vaunted deadline of 2006 and anyone that gets in the way of that plan is going to get dropped from the World Championship. This means that the current issue of Britain's law which bans the use of tobacco branding anywhere in the world is a major problem. The teams may back down but when one considers the kind of budgets which are paid by tobacco companies and the fact that F1 can go on running with tobacco branding for maybe another five to 10 years before a global ban is in place, make it logical to move out of Britain, particularly if you are a small team like Jordan which needs new facilities.
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