Eddie clears desk as new-look unit rebuilds without him
Eddie Jordan’s decision to sell his Formula One team to 36-year-old Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider has brought an end to his 14-year term in motor racing’s upper echelon. It will likely signal the end of the Jordan name in F1, too, for the team is expected to be rebranded as Midland F1 by 2006.
The deal was struck on January 21, with Schnaider’s Midland Group buying Jordan’s 50.1 per cent controlling interest plus the remaining stake owned by the Irish Merrion Group. Shnaider is believed to have spent approximately 16 million on the buyout.
On the day of the sale, an emotional Jordan said: “Of course this is a momentous day for me. I have given 35 years of my life to motor racing and 14 of those to Jordan Grand Prix. I believe that under the new ownership Jordan can be great once more.”
News of the buyout was met with mixed reactions within the team. New technical director Mark Smith walked out, having only joined from Renault in December; it’s said that he was unhappy about the technical direction. (Midland F1 has already contracted Dallara to build its 2006 chassis.) The loss of Smith is another blow for a technical department which did not receive its first Toyota RVX05 engine until February 4. Team manager Tim Edwards left before the takeover to be replaced by ex-F3 team boss Trevor Carlin.
Midland’s acquisition of Jordan gives it an immediate entry to the F1 World Championship without having to pay the £25.5m deposit bond requested by the FIA of any all-new team. It also allows it access to Jordan’s share of the TV revenue, estimated to be worth £5m per year.
After gaining control, Shnaider said: “We bought the Jordan team for commercial reasons. It was a good fit with what we have already. It gives us an extra year’s experience we wouldn’t otherwise have had.”
Amid the commotion, the team finally confirmed its driver line-up: Indian Narain Karthikeyan and Portuguese Tiago Monteiro, both of whom have driven for Carlin in F3.
Eddie Jordan has nominally been retained as a sponsorship director, although sources have linked him to an involvement in an Irish A1 GP team or in running Formula One’s commercial operations.
Fact File — Jordan in Formula One: 1991 – 2004
First GP — USA 91
Starts — 231
Poles — 2
Podiums — 18
Wins — 4
2nds — 4
3rds — 10
Fastest laps — 2
Points — 275
Titles — 0
EJ’s Highs and Lows
1991 — Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot score team’s first points at fifth GP, Canada; Gachot imprisoned for assault; Michael Schumacher stars at Spa but is poached by Benetton; Jordan ranks fifth overall
1992 — Team moves to new Silverstone HQ; Yamaha engine deal a disaster
1993 — Hart engines are a step forward as Rubens Barrichello runs second in third GP, Donington Park; disappointing team-mate Ivan CapeIli is dropped
1994 — Barrichello gives team first podium (Aida) and first pole (Spa); team climbs five places to fifth overall
1995 — Barrichello and Eddie Irvine finish second and third in Canadian GP
1996 — Team signs sponsorship deal with Benson & Hedges
1997 — Ralf Schumacher finishes third in Argentina but knocks team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella out of second; ‘Fisi’ leads German GP but puncture ruins his chance of victory
1998 — Slow progress with Mugen-Honda engines but Damon Hill scores team’s first win, at Spa, with Ralf Schumacher second; tech director Gary Anderson quits; team improves to fourth overall
1999 — Forty per cent share is sold to venture capitalists; Heinz-Harald Frentzen wins French and Italian GPs to leave team third overall, its best ever
2000 Jarno Trulli qualifies second at Monaco; designer Mike Gascoyne quits
2001 — Team lands works Honda engines
2002 — Severe financial problems end in redundancies
2003 — Fisichella wins Brazilian GP but team slumps to ninth overall
2004 –Team struggles and ranks ninth overall again