As the Formula One World Championship draws to a close with only three races left the Benson & Hedges Jordan team moves on to Indianapolis for the US Grand Prix. It was ten years ago that Jordan first entered the world of Formula One at the 1991...
As the Formula One World Championship draws to a close with only three races left the Benson & Hedges Jordan team moves on to Indianapolis for the US Grand Prix. It was ten years ago that Jordan first entered the world of Formula One at the 1991 US Grand Prix in Phoenix Arizona. The team is part-owned by New York based Warburg Pincus which secured a minority share of Jordan Grand Prix in 1998 and was the first private equity investment bank to do so. Collectively Jordan's US sponsors, MasterCard International, Lucent Technologies, Imation, Hewlett-Packard and EMC, enjoy annual revenues totalling more than $730 billion.
Chief Executive Eddie Jordan almost feels at home in the States, "I have always been keen on recreating the link with America", says Jordan. "I believe this is a huge opportunity for Formula One. We must maximise it to create the right image because, in my opinion, we are on the edge of a huge opportunity. I think it is vital when you call yourself a World Championship to be not simply in America, North and South, as we are with Canada and Brazil, but also in the US. We will have huge support in the States and I am looking forward to competing on the home territories of so many of our key sponsors as well as well as my partners at Warburg Pincus."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen was the first and only current Formula One driver to visit the newly constructed Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) when he participated in the IMS media day in June this year. The day, which proved a great success for the Jordan driver and for the US and international media, enabled participants to see the circuit which will host the first US Grand Prix since 1991. Frentzen managed to drive a few laps of this unique circuit which combines half oval and half racetrack, as well as an unusually long, fast straight. "The only circuit that comes close to resembling this is Hockenheim," said Frentzen after his drive. "But the track at Indy is more complex, and finding the correct aerodynamic set up will be a huge
challenge for all the F1 teams. The surface of the track is specially built for Formula One but there is still an incorporation of history with the inclusion of the world-famous yard of bricks on the start/finish line." Frentzen added, "Everyone in our sport is looking forward to coming to Indianapolis. The circuit provides a number of overtaking opportunities, which should give us an exciting race."
Frentzen who was suitably impressed with the circuit will not give away much but said, " The set up will probably be similar to Spa. This will allow a top speed of up to 320 km/h (200 mph), but this is all theory and on the first day of practice we will all have our work cut out to find the optimum configuration. We want to give the fans a really exciting race and grip the American public and I hope we can get a good result to establish ourselves in the States."
Jarno Trulli who, like most of the drivers, has not had the chance to experience the Indianapolis circuit at first hand, said. "I think it will be a massive experience for all of us and especially for me. I am looking forward to racing on such a historic circuit in front of a quarter of a million spectators. We are all in the same boat as we have no prior knowledge for setting the cars up, set up will no doubt be the biggest challenge for us and those who get it right will have the advantage."
Trevor Foster Managing Director of Jordan Grand Prix agrees that the US Grand Prix will be a special occasion and all the teams will be looking forward to going back to America. " The nature of the circuit in Indianapolis is such that it will create an auditorium not unlike Hockenheim but on a larger scale, which will create a fantastic atmosphere. We have fond memories of racing in America and are all pleased to be going back. It will be a huge learning curve for us as well as a challenge to gain the optimum performance out of the cars. This year we have gone to every race feeling that we can have two cars in the top six. I see no reason why we should not retain that philosophy going into the American Grand Prix."