MAY 24, 1999
Jordan gets Mugen V10s
JORDAN GRAND PRIX last week confirmed that it will continue to use Mugen-Honda engines in 2000 and 2001. The team says that it will receive engines on what it calls an "equal specification basis". It is not clear exactly what this means although the implication is that the engines will be the same as those being supplied to British American Racing.
Splitting effort along these lines does not make much sense for Honda if it is serious about winning races and paddock rumors suggest that Jordan's deal is not for the new engine but for a development of the existing unit. Having said that, BritishÊAmerican Racing did not announce an exclusive Honda engine deal and so it is possible that Jordan will get the same basic engines, although these will be prepared by Mugen.
The details of the Honda deal with British American Tobacco are secret - no-one wishing to talk about the vast sums of money involved - but it is possible that an engine deal with Jordan has been included in the deal and money has been found from Benson & Hedges. Jordan's deal with B&H is with the Gallaher company, which sells the brand in Europe. BAT owns the rights to Benson & Hedges outside Europe. This might help to explain how BAT has been able to come up with as much money as is being rumored.
The relationship between Mugen and Honda has always been a complicated one. Mugen is run by Hirotoshi Honda, the son of the late Soichiro Honda, who built the Honda Motor Company into an industry giant. Mugen claims to be independent of Honda but there is no doubt that Honda has been using the Mugen F1 program as a way of keeping up-to-date with the latest F1 developments. To confuse matters Hirotoshi - and his mother - control around 40% of the shares of the HondaÊMotorÊCompany and so have considerable influence on the company's decisions.