AUGUST 12, 1996
Who drives for Jordan in 1997?
At the moment Jordan has an exclusive deal to continue with Peugeot next year. The French car maker is not very happy with the results the team has achieved this year, particularly as there is no doubt that the Peugeot engine is one of the strongest in F1. Peugeot is understood to be campaigning for a complete change in the driver line-up. Rubens Barrichello was under an option to continue with Jordan next year but that option has apparently not been taken up by Jordan. Martin Brundle is a free agent at the end of the year.
Peugeot is rumored to be pushing for a French driver and the number one choice for the team is believed to be Jean Alesi - although Jean is expected to stay at Benetton. Jordan had long talks with Olivier Panis but he decided that it would be better for him to stay at Ligier. Jordan has also had talks with Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jos Verstappen, Mika Hakkinen, Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher.
We understand that Verstappen and Fisichella have been discounted as possible drivers and that Frentzen will not commit himself until it is quite clear what the situation is with Williams, for which he is rumored to have signed. Hakkinen's situation seems to depend on whether the Finn and his manager Keke Rosberg are happy with McLaren. Dennis would like Mika to stay but he is frustrated after four disappointing seasons with the team.
Ralf Schumacher's attraction to the team would be largely financial as his $8m budget from Bitburger would help Jordan invest and grow for the future at a time when the team desperately needs to be constantly improving. With rivals teams trying to lure Benson & Hedges and Peugeot away in 1998, Jordan has to deliver the goods next year.