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Formula One

Jordan Launch New F1 Car

JORDAN ‘NOT OUT TO PLAY ANYMORE’

Amid the cacophony of Total oil drums being beaten into submission by a group of demented drummers and, as pit lane mechanics rolled away tyres that littered the floor, through the smoke and flashing lights, team owner Eddie Jordan today unveiled the car which he believes will take the Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team all the way to the top in 1997. Looking rather serious, he made his way to the podium with his chief designer Gary Anderson, Peugeot Sport director Pierre-Michel Fauconnier and his two new drivers Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Mindful of the ’96 season when the team finished behind the top four of Williams, Ferrari, Benetton and McLaren and with his focus set firmly on 1998 when there is a distinct possibility that he may lose his exclusive contract with Peugeot, this has to be Jordan’s make or break year. With a newly named Team Alain Prost - formally Ligier - waiting in the wings to pick up the the deal, he knows that he must produce the goods this year. " I haven’t felt the buzz for the last couple of years," He began "we took a long hard look at the company and came to the conclusion that we were under-achieving, so we made a deliberate decision to invest the sponsorship which Benson and Hedges brought to us, upgrading our factory facilities and increasing the number of personnel at the team." He went on: "The company roll-call has subsequently grown by 50% and the Jordan-Peugeot 197 is the result of a highly intensive Research & Development programme, the like of which we have never been in a position to undertake before."

Glancing across to his two young drivers both resplendent in sparkling new brilliant yellow race attire, he said, "In Giancarlo and Ralf we have two young drivers who are ambitious and hungry for success, and I believe that the Jordan-Peugeot 197 is the car to bring them that success. We want fireworks and I’m sure that’s what we are going to get."

Despite Anderson’s statement to the effect that the 197 "is principally an evolution of its predecessor" The startling looks of the new car seem to suggest otherwise. Indeed when it’s designer warmed to the topic of modifications and changes, the list seemed endless. "The car does look quite different. " he explained. "The prime reason for the changes was aerodynamics. The 197 has shorter sidepods and we've made some changes at the rear of the engine cover and around the inside of the rear wheels". Having the luxury of a mid season start to their development programme has given Jordan time to collaborate closely with engine supplier Peugeot, in radically redesigning the air box. "... to counter the problems everybody experienced last year with the drivers' helmets upsetting the airflow into the engine". It also gave them the time to develop the engine’s performance and integration into the new chassis and also to take on board the opinions of the drivers. Anderson continued enthusiastically with his endless list of modifications: "We've also modified the rear suspension to cope with the revised aerodynamic package, added carbon fibre front and rear top wishbones to comply with the new FIA specification, and the lower front wishbones are steel, with carbon fibre stiffening. Other changes include a new 7-speed longitudinal gearbox which has been redesigned principally for aerodynamic reasons, as the car is very narrow at the rear. Lots of other mechanical changes are not so obvious. Most of them are little, logical things to improve the handling over the bumps, and help look after the tyres."

Some package indeed and it is easy to see why Eddie Jordan commented wryly, "Gary Anderson copped most of the budget." Anderson ended on a veritably up beat note that could almost be a battle cry and could leave some less confident teams in a state of severe uncertainty. "These developments, combined with the aerodynamic improvements, have given us a massive amount more downforce. I don't want to be too specific, so I will just describe it as a very significant increase. In fact, in all my time in motor racing I have never seen such a big step forward as we have made this year.... "

Looking desperately young and seeming none to used to the bedlam of the Press at bay, Eddie Jordan’s two new boys sat quietly as if waiting for an interview with the headmaster. Both seemed suitably grateful for the chance to prove themselves at the top end of the sport, Fisichella, hoping to "... pay them back with a podium finish" and Schumacher, brushing the cameras away like flies, stated the obvious: "Expectations from the team are a lot higher than the press". Depending on what you read of course, he could even be the next Michael Schumacher.

  • Ralf Schumacher will give the car its first run next Monday (3rdFebruary) at Silverstone Circuit. The B&H Jordan team then heads for Spain to begin an intensive testing programme prior to the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place on Sunday 9th March.
  • It seems that Jordan have really got the bit between their teeth this year and if this enthusiastic approach were measured in points then the Constructor’s cup would already be in their boardroom. Gary Anderson meant it when he said, "I'm not out to play any more - I want to win." Indeed, they just might.

    Jordan 197 Technical Specification >> 

    Louise Goodman long serving Press officer to Jordan Racing performed her last function at the 1997 car launch today. Giving her a bunch of red roses and a long hug, Eddie Jordan said "Louise has been with us since 1988 and in Formula one terms, that’s a very long time." MC for the event Steve Rider quipped, "I wish I had a boss with such an enlightened view of contract law!" She will be replaced by Giselle Davis. Louise goes on to take up her new post with ITV’s newly created Formula 1 coverage team.

     Chris Richardson e-mail zoom@yeahright-no-sorry.com

    All photographs, other than where indicated, taken by Chris Richardson.

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