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FEBRUARY 12, 2004

Heidfeld says deal with Mercedes-Benz is over

Nick Heidfeld's deal with Jordan Grand Prix is a very curious one for there is no obvious signage on the car to indicated where the German's backing for the drive has come from. There had been considerable speculation that the deal was somehow related to Heidfeld's long-running relationship with Mercedes-Benz.

This week, however, Heidfeld told France's AutoHebdo that his deal with Mercedes-Benz is now over.

"It is finished," he said. "It was a long term contact which ended up being too long term! There were good things and less good things I can only be grateful for the support I received from Mercedes starting in F3, which enabled me to get to F1. I did lots of testing for McLaren but in the end they preferred Kimi Raikkonen. From then on the contract became a burden as the doors at McLaren were closed to me but at the same time I was still a Mercedes driver which closed other doors to me."

Such remarks would seem to suggest that a deal with Mercedes-Benz next year is unlikely and with no other obvious backer for Heidfeld, the conclusion must be that either there is private money behind him or that one of Jordan's sponsors has helped him out.

The obvious candidate for this would be Ford Europe and it is worth noting that Eddie Jordan, once so critical of Ford, is now being a lot more conciliatory.

"The financial situation of the team is much more comfortable that last year," Jordan told AutoHebdo. "this is principally thanks to the relationship with Ford. Without the support of this firm and the agreement to use the same engines as Jaguar Racing it would have been difficult to establish new structures within the team."