Now that Minardi has offered its second race seat to Zsolt Baumgartner, the only available option to drivers without a deal for next season is Jordan. There are at least four well-known names vying for the Jordan positions but whoever comes up with the most cash is likely to be in pole position. Eddie Jordan is meeting with Jos Verstappen this week while Nick Heidfeld, Justin Wilson and Allan McNish are all in the frame.
Trust today announced Jos would not race for Minardi in 2003, citing 'the lack of confidence, from Trust, Jos Verstappen and his management with regard to positive technical developments from the Minardi team' as a major factor. Basically, Trust does not wish to be associated with a back-of-the-grid team -- and with Minardi's offer to Baumgartner, it seems the team is no longer an option for Verstappen anyway.
Ex-Sauber man Nick Heidfeld tested for Jordan recently and has a preliminary agreement with the team, but it again depends on financial considerations. Heidfeld would be willing to take a pay cut to stay in F1 but it's not certain Jordan can afford him, even with a lesser wage packet.
Allan McNish, who tested for Renault in 2003, is also in talks with the Silverstone based squad and has visited the factory. The Scot believes his experience will count in his favour. "Fortunately I have never been in the position of being asked for money from a team to drive and teams recognize what value I bring both on and off track," he said.
Justin Wilson still has the interest of Jaguar, which could help with a better deal with Ford for engines but the Englishman is short on funds. "Obviously it would be difficult to consider Justin without some financial support," Eddie Jordan was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.
Jordan sponsor Benson and Hedges is reportedly keen to have a British driver on board -- 2003 Jordan driver Ralph Firman is still hoping but like Wilson and McNish, he doesn't have the appeal of a major sponsor. "My main target is to get all the sponsorship I need and then decide on the drivers," Jordan added. "Ideally sponsorship comes before the drivers."
Currently Verstappen and Heidfeld seem the most likely line up for Jordan in 2004 but, as always in F1, we will just have to wait and see.