FEBRUARY 9, 2004
Jordan Grand Prix and Pantano
There have been reports on BBC Radio Five Live that Jordan is in the process of finalizing terms with Italian Giorgio Pantano to be its second driver in 2004.
Our sources say that Pantano is certainly in the running for the drive alongside Nick Heidfeld but that he does not have the same kind of money as some of the other candidates for the job, with a budget of less than $5m. His advantage, however, is that he is quick and experienced as he has been a frontrunner in Formula 3000 for the last three years.
Eddie Jordan has made the point that he is keen to have a driver with a lot of experience because of the short amount of time available in practice and qualifying these days.
Pantano had one of the most successful records ever in kart racing with victories in the World Championship at Cadet and Junior level back in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 he was the European Formula A Champion in his first season in the category, a remarkable achievement. In 1996 he was signed by Mercedes-Benz but that relationship never flourished and eventually broke down and his career went through a difficult period. In 2000, however, he jumped straight into German Formula 3 and won the title at his first attempt, a remarkable achievement given that it was his first year in car racing and he had never raced on the German tracks before. That year he tested for Benetton and this was followed by tests with McLaren, Minardi and Williams. He was also in the frame for a Prost F1 drive but with no financial backing he struggled to stay in the limelight although he was a winner in Formula 3000 with Team Astromega in 2001, Coloni in 2002 and Durango in 2003.
If the news is confirmed Jordan will find himself with a new star in the marking and one presumes that EJ will try to bring in more sponsorship as a result.
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