Jordan Grand Prix was a Formula One constructor that competed from 1991 to 2005. The team is named after Irish-born founder Edmund "Eddie" Jordan. Jordan and his team were well known for a "rock and roll" attitude which added colour and character to Formula One in the 1990s.
Jordan had a brief stint as a race driver in the late 1970s and ran a successful Formula Three and Formula 3000 team, called Eddie Jordan Racing, in the late 1980s. His team won the F3000 driver's championship with future Formula One star Jean Alesi in 1989.
In early 2005, the team was sold to Midland Group, who competed one final season as 'Jordan', and who will reuse the licence, and some other assets, as MF1 Racing from the 2006 season onwards.
Eddie Jordan's success in lower formulae inspired the creation of a Formula One program for the 1991 season. The first driver to test a Jordan grand prix car was veteran Ulsterman John Watson. Jordan hired Italian veteran Andrea de Cesaris and Belgian Bertrand Gachot to race his first cars, which were powered by Ford. The team had a very solid debut finishing 5th in the Constructors' Championship, with de Cesaris finishing 9th in the Drivers' Championship. Gachot failed to end the season after being sent to prison for attacking a taxi driver. Gachot was initially replaced by Michael Schumacher, who made his Formula One debut in a Jordan at the Belgian Grand Prix, but he was poached by Benetton after just one start. Future Champ Car title winner Alessandro Zanardi and ousted Benetton driver Roberto Moreno filled the second car afterwards. Success for Jordan literally came at a high price. The team was forced to switch to cheaper Yamaha engines for the 1992 season. With veterans Mauricio Gugelmin and Stefano Modena driving, the team badly struggled and failed to score a point until the final race of the season.
1993 saw further changes, with the team again changing engines, this time to Hart motors. Again, the season started with two new drivers, Ivan Capelli and Brazilian rookie Rubens Barrichello. Capelli left after two races and Barrichello saw five other drivers become teammates of his during the 1993 campaign. Jordan only had moderate improvement, scoring 3 points. Signs of stability were beginning to show near the end of the season when Barrichello was joined by Eddie Irvine, a former driver for Jordan in F3000.
Barrichello and Irvine returned for the 1994 season, as did the Hart engines, but Irvine had a bad start to the season, as he earned a three-race ban for reckless driving. Barrichello earned the team their first top three finish in Japan, but was nearly killed during the following race in San Marino following a frightening practice crash. The team overcame these difficulties and returned to their initial form as they finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship again. Barrichello, who also earned Jordan's first pole position, was exceptional for them, as he finished 6th in the Drivers' Championship.
Jordan switched to Peugeot power in 1995. During the Canadian Grand Prix that year, both Irvine and Barrichello finished on the podium, finishing second and third respectively. It was the highlight to an unspectacular but relatively solid year for Jordan, as they hung around mid-pack to finish 6th in the Championship.
Irvine left in 1996 to become Michael Schumacher's teammate at Ferrari, leading Jordan to replace him with veteran Martin Brundle, the ex-Le Mans winner and World Sportscar Champion. The team failed to make the podium, but both drivers managed to score a string of fourth place finishes as the team scored yet another 5th among the constructors.
Late 1990s ascent
1997 saw the departure of both drivers from the previous year. Barrichello left for the newly formed Stewart Grand Prix, whilst Brundle became a Formula One commentator for ITV. Jordan replaced them with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and young Ralf Schumacher, Michael's brother. Again, the team finished 5th in the Championship, with Fisichella scoring two finishes on the podium. At Hockenheim Fisichella had led the race, but lost out to an inspired Gerhard Berger and a puncture. The Italian scored fastest lap at the Spanish Grand Prix. A lowlight of the season came in Argentina when Ralf Schumacher took out his Italian team-mate during the race. This was tempered by Ralf's first podium.
In 1998, the team made its biggest signing as former World Champion Damon Hill, a graduate of Jordan's F3000 programme, replaced Fisichella. The team also replaced its Peugeots with Mugen Honda motors. By the halfway point of the season, Jordan had failed to score a single point. However, things improved greatly towards the end of the season. At that year's Belgian Grand Prix, Jordan earned their first Formula One win, with Damon Hill earning the last of his 22 career Grand Prix victories. Ralf Schumacher sweetened the victory by finishing second. Hill finished 6th in the driver's standings with Ralf 10th. Hill's heroic last lap, last-corner move on outgoing Williams driver Frentzen at Suzuka won Jordan 4th in the Constructors Championship for 1998.
Yet another former F3000 driver of Jordan's, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, joined his F1 program in 1999, replacing Williams-bound Ralf Schumacher. The season was a nightmare for Hill, who had begun to lose interest. Hill was to retire at the end of the 1999 season. However, Frentzen's season was immensely successful, with the German earning two victories and a pole position. For a short while Frentzen had entertained thoughts of a world title, but poor luck and greater speed from McLaren and Ferrari ended his hopes. Frentzen finished third in the Drivers' Championship and the team also finished third amongst the Constructors'. 1999 was to be the team's finest season.
For 2000 Hill was replaced by Jarno Trulli, fresh from a couple of years at Prost and Minardi. His one-lap speed in particular impressed, but he was unable to score a podium. Frentzen was unable to replicate the glories of 1999 and the team slipped back to 6th in the Constructors' Championship. The team had been on course for major points at Monaco, but poor luck intervened.
Both drivers returned to start 2001 and Jordan switched to worksHonda engines which were already being supplied to rival team BAR. This would lead to a battle for the right to use the Honda engines in the long term. Frentzen was released from the team in mid-season, a series of disagreements with team boss Eddie Jordan a possible explanation. Jordan himself has hinted that he dropped Frentzen to bring in Takuma Sato for 2002, an attempt to appease Honda. Frentzen was replaced by test driver Ricardo Zonta at the German Grand Prix, but thereafter in 2001 Jean Alesi, in the final stages of his Formula One career, took the seat. Amidst all the turmoil, Trulli managed to score points every now and then, and the team, as it had done many times before, finished 5th.
Jordan re-organized in 2002, with Fisichella returning and Takuma Sato joining the team, thanks in no small part to Honda's influence. Due to a drop in sponsorship money the team slipped backwards. Fisichella often exceeded the car's abilities in qualifying, a sixth place on the grid for Montreal surprising many onlookers. Yet results-wise, the Italian had to make do with a trio of fifth places and a final point from Hungary. Sato showed flashes of speed, but managed just two points, at Suzuka. Despite the drop in form, Jordan still managed sixth in the championship, ahead of BAR. For 2003, Honda left Jordan to concentrate on their partnership with BAR. Jordan had to make do with Ford Cosworth engines, and the season was not regarded as a success. Despite beating only Minardi to score 9th in the standings, Jordan won their final race. The win came under extraordinary circumstances in the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix which took place in torrential weather conditions. Following a massive accident on the start / finish straight, the race was red flagged and stopped. After some initial confusion, Giancarlo Fisichella was initially ruled to have finished a still remarkable second behind Kimi Räikkönen who took the top step on the podium. However, an FIA inquiry several days later led to Fisichella being officially declared the winner of his first F1 race. Fisichella was, therefore, unable to celebrate his first career victory on the top step of the podium, although he and Räikkönen swapped trophies in a presentation at the following Grand Prix. Aside from the unlikely win, neither Fisichella or new teammate Ralph Firman were able to have any sort of success in their Jordans. After Firman was injured in practice for the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix Jordan fielded the first ever Hungarian Formula One driver, Zsolt Baumgartner. Firman returned for the final two events, but was unable to add to the point he won in Spain. Fisichella only managed two points on top of his victory and unhappy at the team's slump he departed for Sauber.
In 2004, Jordan struggled financially, and their status for the future was questionable. The team fielded German Nick Heidfeld, formerly of Sauber and Prost, and Italian rookie Giorgio Pantano. Ex-F3000 champion Heidfeld showed promise, but could not achieve many good results, the car's pace being poor. Pantano's season was dogged by sponsorship problems. He missed Canada due to a lack of finance, Timo Glock stepping in and scoring a point on his debut. Later in the season, the German replaced Pantano for good. The team finished ahead of only Minardi in 2004.
After the Ford Motor Company's decision to put Cosworth up for sale, Jordan had been left without an engine deal for 2005. However, at short notice, Toyota agreed to supply Jordan with engines identical to those in the Toyota F1 cars. At the beginning of 2005, the team was sold to Midland Group (run by businessman Alex Shnaider). The Jordan name was retained for the 2005 Formula One season, before being changed to MF1 Racing for the 2006 season. Throughout 2005 journalists questioned whether Midland were in Formula One for the long haul. Rumours circulated throughout the season that the team was for sale, and that Eddie Irvine was interested in buying them. The year also saw the induction of two new rookie racers, Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro. 2005 merely confirmed Jordan's status at the back of the grid. A final podium came in the farcical race at Indianapolis, Monteiro leading home a Jordan 3-4. Monteiro managed a welcome eight place at Spa to give the team its last ever point. The final grand prix for the team saw a low-key exit, Monteiro not scoring and Karthikeyan crashing out. Over the years Jordan introduced many star names to the sport, something that will not be forgotten.