FEBRUARY 8, 1999

The new Jordan 199

EDDIE JORDAN launched his 1999 Formula 1 challenger last week at the London Palladium and claimed that this year his team is going to become a consistent challenger to McLaren and Ferrari. "Our target has to be to make progress," Jordan said, "but we have to be patient and see what other teams have done. This year's car is an improvement on last. We have been able to measure that but what we cannot control is what other teams have done."

The 199 chassis is the work of a team of Jordan engineers led by Mike Gascoyne, who joined the team in July of last year. It is an evolution of Gary Anderson's 198 but has a lot of detailed improvements, notably with the aerodynamics and the gearbox. The car features a smaller Mugen Honda engine, with a lower center of gravity.

The car will be raced this year by Damon Hill and Heinz-Harald Frentzen who are both eager to get into action. "We have to be realistic," said Hill, "but we are very confident about this car. I am really looking forward to the season. If you look at the progress we made last season and carry that on then we are going to be running away with races by the middle of this season. That's not going to be easy to do and it is unlikely to happen, but it's a possibility."

The team has retained its support from Benson & Hedges, Mastercard and GdZ. It has increased its backing from PearlÊAssurance, which has replaced Ralf Schumacher's sponsor S Oliver on the front wing of the car. Repsol has gone - following the departure of test driver Pedro de la Rosa - but new backing has been found from Italian cable-making company Intercond and National Westminister Bank.