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Team Biography




Team Biography


Edmund 'Eddie' Jordan was born in Dublin in 1950 and began his competition career by racing karts. He was Irish Champion in 1973 and then switched first to Formula Ford and then to Formula Atlantic, dominating the 1978 Irish championships on both sides of the border. He tried Formula Three in 1979 and found the limit of his ability. Before the end of his second season, he began to hire his car to other drivers. From then on, he became an entrant.

Jordan had an amazing talent for putting together deals - Eddie could not only talk the birds from the trees, but have them dance around singing 'Danny Boy' - and he quickly became a major player in British Formula Three. One of his earliest protoges was Martin Brundle and part of the deal was that Jordan became his manager. Through his rise through Formula Three, and then Formula 3000, Jordan did many such deals.

Ten years after Eddie became a team manager, he founded Jordan Grand Prix at a time when many others had tried and had either folded or were teetering. Jordan's choice of Gary Anderson as chief designer was an inspired one because Anderson's own line of Anson Formula Three cars had not been particularly successful. The Cosworth-powered Jordan 191 was, however, the prettiest car seen for some time, and it handled superbly.

It was not just the car which caused a surprise, it was also the whole team's relaxed approach to Formula One. They treated it like it was meant to be fun, the sort of fun which is paid for with bloody hard work, but fun all the same. In a season which saw pre-qualifying, which meant that six drivers at each race didn't even get to start, Jordan finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship.

It was an astonishing achievement, yet had been done with a small workforce and not a great deal of money. Actually it was less than an adequate budget because Jordan ended the year owing Cosworth $2.5 million, and Cosworth had lawyers on the case.

To then take an engine deal from Yamaha was an act of desperation, the Yamaha engine not only was lacking in power but to cool it needed large, drag-inducing, radiators. From scoring 13 points in its debut year, Jordan slumped to just a single point. A switch to Hart engines for 1993 improved matters very slightly, but 1994 saw Jordan back fifth in the series.

There followed two years with Peugeot engines before a move to Mugen Honda. By mid-season in 1998, however, that deal looked to be on the rocks as the team floundered with with a string of retirements and then there was a sudden upsurge which saw Jordan finish 1-2 in the Belgian GP. It was like the cavalry arriving over the ridge and both saved the deal with Mugen-Honda and also secured Jordan's immediate future.

Jordan did even better in 1999 and both won races and finished third in the Constructors' Championship despite being virtually reduced to running one car, for Heinz-Harald Frentzen, whose career Eddie saved. Damon Hill announced his retirement early in the season and there followed a period of uncertainty - would he turn up for the next race, or not - Damon's behaviour was disgraceful given that his cheque for 1999 alone made him a multi-millionaire.

Despite the team breaking into the top three of constructors, Honda announced that it was switching its main support to BAR, a team which failed to score a single point in its first season. That surprise was shared by some members of the Honda board.

2001 saw Jordan slip further behind and the success of 1999 seems a distant memory. The shock sacking of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and the equally surprising recruitment of Jean Alesi seemed clear indication of a team in turmoil.

For 2002, Jordan retained Fisichella and partnered him with British F3 Champion Takuma Sato. Although the Japanese youngster was highly regarded and widely believed to be the brightest F1 prospect to emerge from the land of the rising sun, there were many that thought his signing was a cynical move by Jordan to appease engine suppliers Honda.

According to Giancarlo Fisichella the EJ12 was not an easy car, the weight of the Honda coupled with the team's own gearbox made the car difficult, to say the least. Because of its weight Jordan was unable distribute ballast to great effect, while the car was notoriously hard on tyres.

If the car was hard on tyres then Sato was hard on cars, getting through an inordinate amount of chassis as he attempted to learn the ropes. There is no doubting the Japanese youngster's skill, but rather than dial himself in gradually he seemed to go at it hammer and tongs.

Of course having Giancarlo Fisichella as his team-mate didn't help, the Italian continues to impress even though he has yet to have a package to match his ability.

Sato writing off cars left, right and centre was the last thing that Eddie Jordan needed. Early in the year there were rumours in the pitlane that the Irish team was in trouble, by the end of the season the team's financial problems were common knowledge.

Honda had already decided that it simply couldn't supply two teams and therefore decided to throw in its lot with BAR, Jordan meanwhile pulled off a remarkable coup by securing a customer deal with Ford. That said the Ford Cosworth units have to be paid for and times are hard for the Silverstone outfit. Yet just as Eddie was attempting to balance the books he received the news he'd dreaded, primary sponsor Deutsche Post was pulling out of F1 leaving his team high and dry.

It's not known if Jordan is a superstitious man, but he was certainly pushing his luck when he designated his 2003 contender the EJ13.

Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman gave it their best shot, but the car was the worst in the Irish team's history, and that's according to Eddie himself.

The record books will show that Jordan scored a win at Interlagos, thus bringing the team's career total to four. With no disrespect to either the team or Giancarlo, the Brazilian win was about being in the right place at the right time, in addition to having the right tyres and strategy, courtesy of Gary Anderson.

Despite the Brazil win, Jordan still had a mountain to climb. The team's enigmatic boss publicly admitted that for several years he had taken his eyes off the ball and had basically been overcome by the glamour side of the business, as a result his team had suffered, losing money, key staff and credibility. Although the Irishman was prepared to role up his sleeves and get on with the job of rebuilding the team, he didn't appear to appreciate the enormity of the task.

Various people showed an interest in buying the team, most notably Red Bull boss Dieter Mateschitz, however, more often than not, they didn't want to keep Eddie on board.

It was soon clear that despite the high praise lavished on Ford in 2002, when he was seeking an engine supply for 2003, Jordan was now turning his attention elsewhere, most notably Mercedes-Benz. The Irishman publicly flirted with the German manufacturer and at the notorious press conference in Canada in which Paul Stoddart and Ron Dennis went head-to-head, Jordan shamefully failed to back up the Australian, preferring to remain friendly with Mercedes. Not that it did him any good.

The car was a bitch, the team was in disarray, and there was no prospect of a solution on the horizon. At a time when his cars were regularly battling with the Minardis, Jordan did something that still defies belief, he sued Vodafone for £100m claiming that the telecommunications giant had reneged on a sponsorship deal. In addition to losing the high profile case, Jordan was publicly ridiculed by the presiding judge.

The team's 2004 contender, the EJ14, was reputed to be a major step forward, and team boss Eddie claimed himself to be more confident than ever. Sadly, the reality was a little different.

In truth and it's a harsh thing to say, in 2004 the Irish team was simply going through the motions. From a team with serious title winning aspirations in 1999, just a few years later the Silverstone outfit was struggling to stay ahead of Minardi.

The team was the last to announce its driver line up, and though little was expected of Giorgio Pantano, who towards the end of the season ran out of money and was replaced by Timo Glock, it was good to see Nick Heidfeld remain in F1, even if he was never likely to be given the opportunity to demonstrate his undoubted talents.

In all, the yellow cars scored just five points, the Irish team's worst ever season. Heidfeld took two points in Monaco, finishing seventh, while Glock, on his F1 debut, finished ahead of the German as both drivers scored points in Canada.

As the team looked ahead to 2005, Ford's decision to pull out of F1 came as a major blow, as it did to Minardi. Though Eddie tried to put a brave face on the situation it's clear now (on reflection) that he had simply had enough.

In mid November it was revealed that Mark Smith was returning from Renault, which gave the Irish team's many fans a much needed boost.

Weeks later there was even more good news when Toyota announced a one-year deal to supply the team with its powerplants - reputed to be amongst the most powerful on the grid.

But the buzzing hornet had a sting in its tail - on Monday 24 January it was revealed that Alex Shnaider and his Midland Group, which was already in the process of setting up its own Midland F1 team - had bought Jordan, with the enigmatic team founder taking a back seat.

Within days, various team members had left, or been fired, with Mark Smith amongst the first out of the door, having hardly had time to have his name plate fixed to his office door.

When, on Thursday 3 February, the team announced the signing of rookies Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro, Eddie Jordan wasn't present, he wasn't even mentioned in the press release.

Although the cars will bear Eddie's name in 2005, and precious little else, Jordan is no more and the season will serve merely as a learning year for Midland as it finds its feet.

It's reported that the sale of the team took just seven days, with the agent handling the deal claiming it to be one of the fastest transactions he's ever dealt with. Eddie will slip quietly into the background, though it remains to be seen if the sport will use the popular Irishman in some future role.

Although Eddie has grown wealthy on the back of his team, there is no doubt that should you get him alone, over a couple of pints of the 'black nectar', he'd tell you that his F1 adventure had proved to be a case of 'what might have been'.

Whether you liked him or loathed him, one has to admit that EJ was one of the few remaining characters in the pitlane, and even though he had us pulling our hair out in frustration - no jokes please - the fact remains that he was, and remains, one of the few F1 people you'd enjoy having a beer with.

As for Midland and Shnaider, the jury is still out. The Russian admits that he is in F1 to help promote his many companies. Though he talks of a vast budget, it remains to be seen if he realizes what an insatiable appetite for cash Formula One has.

Two rookie drivers, a Toyota engine, and a management team with virtually no experience of F1 does not bode well. In 2005 there is every likelihood that we'll see Jordan fall behind the Minardis.


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