SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001 -- Team owner Eddie Jordan says his Formula One team now has all the ingredients in place to build a winning team now that it has a factory-backed engine partner in Honda. Jordan spoke at the...
SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2001 -- Team owner Eddie Jordan says his Formula One team now has all the ingredients in place to build a winning team now that it has a factory-backed engine partner in Honda.
Jordan spoke at the official unveiling of the 2001 Benson & Hedges Jordan-Honda EJ11 that took place Jan. 16 at the Jordan factory across the road from the Silverstone circuit. "In life you very seldom get the chance that we are just about to get -- to get together with Honda," Jordan said. "You tell the staff that you have an unbelievable opportunity. There is such a power and a belief at the moment that, with the sponsors, the team, the personnel, Honda, the drivers and with everything involved with us, this is our chance. If we blow it this time, you can blame us because we will never have had an opportunity (like this)."
This year's car is the 11th model in the history of the Jordan F1 team that began in 1991 with a staff of less than 40 and now has a staff of 250. The chassis number EJ11 reflects that 11th model and the initials of team founder Jordan. After using customer engines supplied by Honda's sister company Mugen-Honda for three years, Jordan now joins British American Racing as a fully Honda-backed team. Still, Jordan promised to maintain the team's image that it enjoys life outside of motor racing, as well. "In the changing face of F1 with the major manufactures coming in and owning teams," he said, "Jordan will make a promise that it will not change its identity and the way we go about it. We are very serious about our business, but we also like to have a bit of fun. There is a life outside of F1 racing, but that part is very, very important. We have to make sure that in this life we take some pleasure out of it."
That doesn't mean, Jordan said, that the team has not been working hard to overcome its tough 2000 season when it finished sixth in the Constructors Championship compared to third in 1999. "It was very disappointing for us last season," Jordan said. "The 2000 season started so well. We momentarily led the race in Australia. In the second race, in Brazil, we were third and fourth. We knew we had a reasonably quick car, but it was unreliable. "The thing about the quality of teams like Ferrari and McLaren is that you don't get a second chance. You have to keep fighting and pushing all the time. And once we were fighting and trying to sort out all the problems of the car, other people gathered momentum and we suffered. We also suffered with the loss of staff. We've learned by our mistakes in 2000."
The Jordan team decided to concentrate on the development of the 2001 car once it realized that the 2000 car would not be able to challenge Ferrari and McLaren, Jordan said. With technical designer Mike Gascoyne leaving the team last year and chief designer Mark Smith giving notice that he also would leave, chief engineer Tim Holloway was put in charge of overseeing the design of the EJ11. "It was a little bit unexpected to take on the role on in the beginning," Holloway said, "but overall it has been very good, and things are going very well. The team of engineers that we have in the company is very strong and very good, and my main role has been to manage this team and point them in the right direction. We have worked very hard on reliability this year, but the main emphasis with that reliability has been to optimize the speed."
Jordan announced at the launch that Egbahl Hamidy (who had been working for Arrows) would join Jordan on Feb. 25 in the role of technical director.
Both drivers from 2000 are back with the team with Heinz-Harald Frentzen starting his third season with Jordan and Jarno Trulli his second. "I strongly believe that the Jordan team is the team of the future," said Frentzen, who drove his Jordan to third place in last year's inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. "I looked at many options (with other teams for 2001) when I had the chance to look. But I strongly believe in the people at Jordan and, especially with Honda joining us, I think that we have good chances to win races, and this is the best opportunity for me to develop with a team. My goals are and the team goals are that we continue where we finished in 1999. We have shown a little bit of performance in 2000, but if we get the car reliable there is no reason why we can't continue to be successful."
While still carrying the yellow paint of primary sponsor Benson & Hedges, the Jordan EJ11 carries a new mascot with a shark replacing the buzzing hornet on the sides of the nose.
The new car, which had its first shakedown on Jan. 13 at Silverstone, was due to begin official testing at the same track on Jan. 17, the day after the launch. From his office across the street from the track, Eddie Jordan will hear the sounds of the new EJ11 powered by the new Honda V10. "One year ago I never would have dreamed that we could be sitting here launching a fully works factory Honda Jordan team," Jordan said. "I am very excited, and I'm hungry for the season to start."