It's a difficult job to be at the back of the grid and know that, despite the team's best efforts, earning some valuable points as a reward is unlikely to happen. For Jordan's sporting director Trevor Carlin it's a frustrating situation and he's...
It's a difficult job to be at the back of the grid and know that, despite the team's best efforts, earning some valuable points as a reward is unlikely to happen. For Jordan's sporting director Trevor Carlin it's a frustrating situation and he's determined things will change, although he's well aware it will take time.
Carlin has a long background in motorsport, starting as a mechanic in Formula Ford in 1980, up to running his own British F3 team since 1998. He was appointed to his current role with Jordan when the Midland Group took over the team early this year.
Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com Carlin, unsurprisingly, said that he's not pleased about Jordan's current position. "The step from the Junior formulas to Formula One is obviously a large one; the biggest issues are the size of the team and the amount of people necessary to get two cars on the grid for a Grand Prix," he explains of his move to F1.
"The hardest thing for me to grasp at the moment is the knowledge that, within reason, whatever we do as a team in the short term we will still only qualify 17th and 18th for a race. This is a testament to the high level of all the F1 teams. It will take a lot of time and effort for us move up the grid, but I certainly have the desire for us to do so. I am not happy being last."
Midland announced last year that it intended to enter F1 in 2006 and would build a team from scratch. However, it became apparent that taking over an existing team was more appealing. "Taking over Jordan has given us a great platform from which to start, it has saved us two years work basically," says Carlin. "Also the people at Jordan have a lot of experience and given the resources can produce a good car again."
However, appropriating a team already on the grid also presents a few problems. "The downsides are having to get to know 200 people in a short time and trying to gain people's trust," Carlin admits. "It is particularly hard to step into a team that was previously run by such a character as Eddie Jordan. I think things will change when the Jordan name is gone and we are 100% Midland F1."
Alex Shnaider, Midland's co-founder and chairman, was a subject of much interest when Jordan was taken over but keeps a fairly low profile. Shnaider's business interests mean he's not short of the finances needed to run an F1 team but some question his commitment to the team's long term future. It seems he is serious -- providing he gets results.
"Mr. Shnaider takes his investment in F1 very seriously," Carlin affirms. "He is prepared to invest in the team but he wants value for money; ultimately he wants Midland F1 to be successful on the track and successful at raising sponsorship. To this extent he is definitely in it for the long term."
For the immediate future Jordan has a lot of work to do before it can return to competitiveness. The longer-life engines mean a generally lower attrition rate in races and the hopes of gaining a point or two as others drop out is less likely. Carlin doesn't try and talk his way around the less than encouraging situation.
"To be very honest it will be very difficult for us to make it into the points this year, even though we have a superbly reliable (Toyota) engine and chassis package -- so have nearly all the other teams. This is a legacy of the two race engine rule that really puts the emphasis on reliability, not just outright pace. In the past we would have probably scored points by now."
As F1 rookies, Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro are not doing a bad job of getting their cars to the chequered flag. Karthikeyan suffered an electrical problem in Bahrain that ended his race prematurely but it's the only non-finish so far. "Both drivers are doing a very good job," Carlin says.
"Narain has adapted very quickly and is now able to push fairly hard straightaway, whereas Tiago is a little more cautious and takes his time to build up to his ultimate pace. But at the end of the day they end up fairly similar lap time wise. I am sure now they will start to drive on some circuits they already know they will get more from them selves and the car."
Jordan launched the EJ15 in Moscow's Red Square -- Shnaider is Russian-born -- and the team is aiming to have something of a Russian flavour as it develops its new identity. So does this mean vodka is now the tipple of choice? "Not so much vodka but copious amounts of beer and wine!" is Carlin's amused reply.
Carlin obviously knows that getting Jordan up to speed is a big challenge but he seems to be a straightforward guy who will tackle that challenge with determination. Jordan was once a force to be reckoned with and only time will tell if it can be again, but for the moment the team is working on it. From the back of the grid the only direction to go is towards the front.