1 Jordan 1991-2005
Ebullient Irishman Eddie Jordan had hustled his way through the junior ranks, first as a driver and then more successfully as a team owner. But surely he’d come unstuck in the Big Time – wouldn’t he? Never underestimate the power of ambition – and desperation.
That magical first season in 1991 with the bright green 7UP Jordan 191 had it all: the scrap to escape pre-qualifying, the heroic points finishes, the jail-term for Belgian hot-head Bertrand Gachot after his contretemps with a London cabbie… Then a young German called Michael Schumacher stepped in for Spa and caught everyone off guard, only for Flavio Briatore and Tom Walkinshaw to steal him for Benetton by the next race.
It never stopped at Jordan.
But for all the high drama – most of it generated by the voracious ego of the man whose name was on the door – this was a no-nonsense little team who had designed and built a great car, on the back of very little. That wouldn’t change much over the years.
Fortunes would ebb and flow, but by the late 1990s, now in bright Benson & Hedges yellow, Jordan had enough momentum to win races – first with Damon Hill at Spa in 1998, and then with Heinz-Harald Frentzen the following year. The German was even briefly a title contender in the wake of Schumacher’s leg-breaking shunt at Silverstone.
But that was as good as it would get; a long, slow decline would follow. Sure, there was a final, bizarre win at Interlagos in 2003 when Giancarlo Fisichella would be awarded victory days after the race following red-flag confusion in Brazil. But by 2005, Eddie Jordan cashed in his chips – and left F1 far richer than he’d joined it 14 years earlier.