Jordan's engines

JUNE 19, 2000

Jordan's engines

THE future of Jordan Grand Prix's engine supply was the topic of some discussion in the Montreal paddock with Eddie Jordan admitting that he was in discussion with "a number of manufacturers" about possible engine supplies in the future. Jordan said that he had been quite open with his current engine partner Mugen and that they agreed that the next step forward for the team was in partnership with a major automobile manufacturer.

This is easy to say but very difficult to achieve. The consolidation in the car industry means that there are not many car companies left which are available to supply Jordan with engines. Honda is one option as its current relationship with British American Racing is becoming more and more confused as the future of the team is in doubt. Toyota is obviously a choice as it has committed itself to Formula 1 with its own team but may see the benefits of an alliance with an existing team rather than continuing its current path of starting up its own team. There are hopes that perhaps Volkswagen would like to be involved in F1 but it seems increasingly likely that this will not happen until the future of BMW is decided as it makes no sense to invest in an F1 program if there is one available if Volkswagen was to buy BMW as is thought likely in a year or two. That leaves General Motors. The American giant seems to be becoming aware that it needs a presence in Formula 1 now that Ford and others have committed themselves to Formula 1 in the future. The first signs of a long-term GM involvement came last year when the company's head of motorsport activities appeared at the Belgian Grand Prix, saying that he was "on holiday". There is no doubt that GM is looking at a more global approach to marketing with Cadillac being used at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. It is probably worth mentioning at this point that links between Honda and GM are growing all the time and there is a possibility that Honda might be in a position to supply GM with its technology for Formula 1 at some point in the future.

Whatever happens with Jordan, it is likely to be 2002 at the earliest before the team gets a manufacturer deal and so it is expected that the current relationship with Mugen will continue next year unless Honda decides to switch its involvement to Jordan. This is not very likely because the Japanese car company wants to get more control over the chassis technology and the best way to achieve that aim is to buy an existing operation. The obvious choice was British American Racing but it seems that at the moment the price is too high for Honda to consider.

The complex nature of the relationship between Mugen and Honda is very difficult to fathom with Mugen engines being designed by Honda engineers. We hear that Jordan will next year have engines similar to those being used by BAR this season but whether this will become an official factory supply is another matter.

Whatever the case, Eddie Jordan has sent out a message that he is interested in talking to a major car company and this may bring him opportunities which are not currently obvious.

In the meantime the team is due to debut a B version of the current car in Austria in a month. This will be fitted with a new version of the current Mugen engine and with major aerodynamic modifications which have been produced by Jordan's chief aerodynamicists John Iley and his team at the team's windtunnel facility in Brackley.

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