JANUARY 13, 1997

Fisichella signs for Jordan

GIANCARLO FISICHELLA has been confirmed as Ralf Schumacher's partner at Jordan in 1997 and 1998. After a couple of weeks of negotiation Eddie Jordan has reached an agreement with the 23-year-old from Rome, probably buying the contract that existed between Fisichella and Minardi.

The announcement means that Martin Brundle no longer has an F1 drive and that Jordan is going into the 1997 season with a pair of drivers who have only eight Grand Prix starts between them. This will not create a problem if the Jordan 197 is a quick car - as the team hope it will be - but if it has teething problems the team may suffer seriously from lack of experience. It is thought likely that in an effort to avoid such problems Jordan will sign an experienced driver to test this season. The obvious candidate is Gianni Morbidelli, who tested for Jordan last season.

For Brundle, a 37-year-old veteran of 158 Grands Prix during his 12 year career with Tyrrell, Williams, Brabham, Benetton, Ligier, McLaren and Jordan, the rejection could prove to be the final blow in his F1 career.

"I am very, very disappointed," Martin said, "it's a strange decision. They already had one inexperienced driver, now they have two. I like to think I will race again, but who knows? Maybe I'll get another chance in Formula 1. I know I am still one of the top drivers in the world."

Brundle has been courted strongly by the British ITV network which want him to be one of its commentary team alongside Murray Walker, Simon Taylor and James Allen but Brundle had yet to decide whether he wants to go on competing in other formulae.