Formula One 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. Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, who will drive the new Jordan-Peugeot 197, joined Eddie at the presentation and heard him reveal the steps he has taken to ensure that his team, which has threatened success for so long, finally achieves that elusive first Grand Prix victory in 1997.
"Halfway through last year - our sixth season in F1 - we took a long hard look at the company and came to the conclusion that we were under-achieving" explained Eddie "So we made a deliberate decision to in vest the sponsorship which Benson and Hedges brought to us, into upgrading our factory facilities and increasing the number of personnel at the team. This time last year I said if the company ever grew to more than 100 people, I would not be leading it. That statement was probably representative of the naive belief that we could make it into the big time with less manpower and less resources, than the teams against which we were competing. During the course of our soul-searching it became quite obvious that we would never be able to achieve this.
"The company roll-call was 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. This has all been facilitated by the continued faith of our partners Benson & Hedges, Peugeot and Total. We have made a major step forward with this new car - a very major step" said Eddie. "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. The package as a whole represents a well-planned, aggressive and venomous attack on the established winners in F1" he concluded
The new car benefits from a revised aerodynamic package and numerous innovative design features, all of which should add up to a significant increase in performance. In fact Technical Director Gary Anderson, who heads the Jordan Grand Prix design team, predicts that the new car could be up to two seconds a lap quicker than its predecessor "The difference is black and white" says Anderson. On our track simulation programme. measuring the 1997 package against 1996 data, the car ended up on pole at every race. The other teams will have moved forward over the winter months as well" he added "but we are still looking at a very significant improvement".
Ralf Schumacher will give the car its first run next Monday (3rd February) at Silverstone Circuit in England. The B&H Jordan team then heads for Spain to begin an intensive testing programme prior to the first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, which takes place on Sunday 9th March.
-- Stephen M Baines
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