JANUARY 8, 2003
And so to Jordan...
If Minardi does confirm rumours that Jos Verstappen and Christjian Albers will become race and test driver for the team it will mean that there is only the second Jordan seat left in F1 this year. This would appear to leave the drive open for Felipe Massa but Jordan has already said that it is in no hurry to finalise a driver and is concentrating at the moment on finding the money it needs for the 2003 season.
Eddie Jordan announced back in August that he had signed a three-year deal to use Ford Cosworth engines. The Irishman trumpeted the deal as being "something really quite innovative and different" and said that "the future of motor racing is no longer just the opportunity to put stickers on a car". The implication of this and rumours at the time suggested that there was some form of business-to-business deal between Jordan sponsor DHL and the Ford Motor Company for the transportation of Ford parts. That side of the deal has never been confirmed and DHL's parent company Deutsche Post has since terminated all its F1 activities.
The team has been talking to former title sponsor Benson & Hedges throughout the offseason but at the moment there seems to be nothing to be announced. The suspicion is that B&H is pushing for more space for less money and this may be related to a recent story which appeared in The Times in London, citing "a former sponsor" which revealed that F1 rate cards were tumbling. There is little logic in such revelations if there is no purpose to them.
However, although time is running out for the team, all is not lost for the resourceful Jordan. Last-minute deals are common in F1 as teams and sponsors compromise on what they want as the start of the season draws closer. It should be remembered, for example, that Arrows's lucrative deal with Orange arrived just days before the start of the 2000 season. This provided the team with a decent sum of money and gave Orange plenty of exposure for the investment made. We hear, incidentally, that several teams are still pitching Orange for sponsorship this year with our spies reporting approaches from two of the top three teams: Williams will almost certainly be one of them as its deal with Worldcom has now come to an end. McLaren is probably the other.
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