French GP Jordan preview

The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team returns home to Europe for round nine of the 1996 championship, the French Grand Prix, which takes place next Sunday (30th June) at the Circuit de Nevers in Magny Cours- The 4.250krn/2.640 mile...

The Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team returns home to Europe for round nine of the 1996 championship, the French Grand Prix, which takes place next Sunday (30th June) at the Circuit de Nevers in Magny Cours- The 4.250krn/2.640 mile track is well known to Martin Brundle who he spent many hours testing there when he drove for Ligier He also recorded his best ever grid position at the French venue, qualifying 3rd for the Grand Prix in 1993.

Rubens Barrichello has put in some promising performances at Magny Cours, although it has not always been a lucky circuit for the Brazilian. Knocked out the the championship points on the penultimate lap in 1993, he was confident of a rostrum finish the following year until he was knocked out of the race by Jean Alesi. Rubens went on to record his first French GP points finish last year when he came home sixth, whilst Martin Brundle finished that race two places ahead of him in fourth. The B&H Jordan team will be looking to come home in the points again this year at partner's Peugeot's home Grand Prix.

Peugeot has only been competing in Fl for three years. In that short space of time however the French engine manufacturer has come to be recognised as a significant force within the sport. Martin Brundle is well placed to chart the rise.

"I was there in the early days and they were sometimes painful early days" says Brundle, who has some less than happy memories of his season with McLaren-Peugeot in 1994. "Fundamentally I am still dealing with the same people as I dealt with then, but two years down the road the engine is now close to being the best engine in Formula One.

"Peugeot have progressed in all areas" he continues. "Reliability and driveability have come on very strongly and we now have fantastic power, as was demonstrated at the Canadian Grand Prix. To be honest, I was a bit shocked when I first ran the engine in the back of a Jordan last December. It seemed as though some things had gone backwards since the McLaren days. Over the last few months though the whole thing has really moved forward at a very impressive pace".

"They have made a big step forward this year" agrees team-mate Rubens Barrichello, "both in terms of power and reliability - a lot. I think they provide us with a very good engine, if not the best then certainly almost the best. If I had to score the Peugeot engine from 1 to 10 I would give it 9. On a personal level though I would give the company 10. Peugeot is a very professional operation - Jordan is learning a lot from the professionalism of Peugeot and visa versa too".

"We have grown to understand each other more and more as time has gone on" adds B&H Jordan's Technical Director Gary Anderson. "Technically we are both heading in the same direction; working hard to improve our performance and reliability. Consistency, be it driver and team, or team and engine supplier, is important in a working relationship" he adds, as is commitment, and that is one of Peugeot's strongest points. They have an enormous will to succeed, and are committed to doing the job".

"There is a level of control in the organisation such that it is all logical, step by step delivery of the goods" explains Martin Brundle, "Everybody is rowing in the same direction They are very co-ordinated and I am very impressed by the direction from Pierre-Michel Fauconnier (Peugeot Sport Director) and Jackie Eeckelaert (Peugeot Fl Project Coordinator) - and indeed with the whole Peugeot equipe. With the announcement that Renault are pulling out of Formula One, this engine is going to be hot property for the future".

Right now B&H Jordan's attention is focussed on the French GP where the team hopes to add to its points tally in front of Peugeot's home crowd. floes that put the drivers under extra pressure to perform. "I feel under pressure to perform everywhere" says Brundle. "Having driven for Ligier for a couple of years, and having driven for Peugeot before though, I am aware of the extra special pressures around the French motor racing environment. Peugeot want to deliver at their home Grand Prix, and we want to deliver for them".

B&H Jordan were one of six teams testing at Silverstone this week. Martin Brundle spent the first day evaluating aerodynamic developments, before completing two days of tyre testing for Goodyear,

Silverstone test: 19th-21st June

1.   Jean-Christoph Boullion (Williams-Renault) 1'26.75 (Wed)
2.   Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)           1'26.76 (Fri)
3.   Damon Hill (Williams-Renault)              1'26.91 (Thurs)
4.   Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Renault)      1'27.33 (Fri)
5.   Gerhard Berger (Benetton-Renault)          1'27.45 (Fri)
6.   Martin Brundle (B&H Jordan Peugeot)        1'28.55 (Wed)
7.   Jean Alesi (Benetton-Renault)              1'29.86 (Wed)
8.   Mika Salo (Tyrrell-Yamaha)                 1'29.42 (Fri)
9.   Ukyo Katayama (Tyrrell-Yamaha)             1'29.62 (Fri)
10   Jos Verstappen (Footwork-Hart)             1'3O.37 (Fri)

-- Stephen M Baines

"[The Autosport sticker] started to peel off in the middle of Eau Rouge and it distracted me. In fact it was the first thing to hit the barrier" Tiff Needell - Jaguar XJR-15 Challenge - Interview with Autosport


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Gerhard Berger , Mika Salo , Martin Brundle , Tiff Needell , Damon Hill , Ukyo Katayama , Gary Anderson
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan