Co-ordinator Jacky Eekelaert tells Speed
Motorsport News about Jordan's technical
preparations for the European Grand Prix season.
Taking a look the
first three Grands Prix of the 1997 season how would you
sum up the Jordan Peugeot team's efforts - from a
technical and from a sporting point of view?
have made constant progress. You can measure that by
looking at our performances in qualifying in
Australia where we were 12th and 14th on the grid. We
were seventh and 10th in Brazil and in Argentina, 6th
and 9th. Apart from the fact that our young drivers
have made progress, I think one has to underline the
fact that this year Jordan produced the car very late
so as to have extra time for the research and
development and the fabrication process. The chassis
engineers - and the engine builders - are getting to
know the car which was not possible during the
limited amount of pre-season testing. Consequently we
are on an upward curve in terms of performance and
development. Having said that, the various split
times at the three circuits we have already visited
show that the engine is right up there and has
already reached the level of competition which was
expected of it at least in the first half of the
Are there any
negative sides to the technical summary and areas where
you need to improve things quickly?
''The late arrival of
the car meant that we had to put a lot of faith in
the reliability while focusing on better performance.
During the pre-season testing and in the first races,
we demonstrated that we had a strong car - in
comparison to the competition. The Jordan Peugeot Is
very competitive right through a Grand Prix. The 1997
car is a lot more aerodynamically advanced than last
year's car. This improvement in aerodynamic downforce
gives more grip. The car is much stiffer and better
balanced. The rigidity between the car and the engine
and the engine and the gearbox - which we worked
together on - is much better. It provides greater
stability and the aerodynamic performance is constant
and depends less on the pitch-angle of the car.
As far as the Peugeot
A14 engine is concerned, it is more compact and has
less internal friction losses. It is also more
powerful but has not lost any of the torque, which
combined makes it a step forward everything is going
in the right direction.
The car is a step
forward from the 1996 version but does it have the
potential for much more development?
"That really is
directly dependent on the resources available to the
team Eddie Jordan understood the need to build up the
operation and has invested a lot in both new
equipment and more staff."
Going back to your
summary of the season so far, can you talk a littte about
what it's like having two young drivers in a team. does
it give the team a special atmosphere and what are the
problems it creates?
"When we first
looked at it, we felt that the beginning of the
season showed that the drivers still needed to
improve their performance in qualifying - just like
the car. The result of the race depends more than
ever on the grid position taking into account the
situation in which a driver can drop back several
rows for want of a couple of tenths of a second. We
are obliged to run the cars with different settings
in qualifying and the race. To do this, the team and
the drivers need experience to adapt to particular
set-ups which can make all the difference and it must
be done very quickly. Our drivers Ralf Schumacher and
Giancarlo Fisichella are quick. There is no doubt
about that, but when you look at the telemetry from
qualifying, you see that their best sector times do
not occur on the same laps. They need to put it all
together a little bit more to produce the best
possible performances ''
Ralf Schumacher - not
paid to be friendly.
People say that
there is no great rapport between the two drivers and
that energy is being wasted because it is being channeled
in the wrong directions?
"Our drivers are
not paid to be friends. They are paid to drive
quickly and get results. It is true that they do not
exchange much technical information and leave it up
to their engineers to do that. This is obviously not
What does Peugeot
think about the behaviour of the drivers and the need to
produce result rather than collide as they did in
"Eddie Jordan is
their boss although we certainly talked with Eddie
immediately after the race about the incident which
eliminated Fisichella after a crash with Schumacher.
After each race we have a chassis-engine debriefing
and we discuss technical and tactical aspects of the
race. When there is an Incident such as there was in
Argentina which cost us points and a good finish we
obviously have to speak to Jordan to define cases in
which one needs team orders to ensure a good result
for the Jordan-Peugeot team.
After the flyaway
races at the start of the season - which do not give you
much chance to make technical changes -the European
season is now upon us. What is the programme of
developments for the next few races?
"We are working
on ways to adapt the engines to the different tracks
we visit. The work of the engine-builder consists of
precisely refining the engine mapping to fit a
circuit that we already know - thanks to previous
experience. On the chassis side after not doing much
development during the first three races, we are
embarking on the European tour with some pretty big
changes ahead even if they do not seem spectacular.
These include an improved aerodynamic package which
according to the figures from the wind tunnel, ought
to give us two or three tenths of a second a lap.
That is one row further forward on the starting grid.
In terms of mechanical bits, Jordan is developing an
active differential which means that the driver can
press a button on the steering wheel and the set-up
of the differential will change to suit the next
corner whether that is a hairpin or a 150mph sweeper.
At the moment we are using a passive system which is
a bit of a compromise. The aim is to have the new
differential in time for Monaco and that ought to
bring us some improvement.
What about the
engine development? What does Peugeot have up its sleeve
up to the mid-season?
Boudy 's team has some development parts which are
now running on the test beds. These produce more
horsepower and improve the power curve but we will
not be putting these onto the racing engines until
they have been properly tested."
What is Eddie Jordan
doing to improve his team?
"The Jordan team
is no longer a small operation. It is now an
average-sized team it has grown from 70 to 120
people. This includes an aerodynamics department
which now has four people, compared to the old
arrangement where Gary Anderson did the work himself.
The number of days in the wind tunnel has gone from
50 to 120 in a year. The team has bought its own wind
tunnel located at Brackley not far from the factory,
and this will be operational in May. The team has
also established a quality-control department to
inspect the many parts which are supplied by
sub-contractors. Jordan has bought itself a gearbox
test bed so that transmissions can be checked before
they are put into a car. The biggest step forward,
however, is the purchase of a four-post rig which
enables the team to simulate the pitch, roll and
aerodynamic loadings of a car in relation to
individual track surfaces. This is all reproduced
using recorded data and can be used when we are away
at a Grand Prix to help establish setup."
As we go to Imola
what can you tell us about your level of performance at
circuit demands a lot from an engine, which ought to
suit the Peugeot A14. There are big changes with the
need for power in very different and difficult
circumstances, in places which have very low revs.
The smoothness of the response or our engine ought to
be able to cope with that. You have to have a pretty
good car - even if the tyres will be a bit of an
unknown factor. But the Jordan engineers have sorted
out the problems of last year's car which was very
unstable under braking. Imola is always a demanding
circuit in this respect."
Paris, April 15 1997
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