ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 25


  by Karl Ludvigsen, England

Award-winning writer Karl Ludvigsen reviews the options Eddie Jordan faces in trying to secure a works engine deal, one that is essential if Jordan GP are to make a real bid for a place at the top

At the top of Eddie Jordan's list of priorities, according to EJ himself, is a factory engine deal for 2001. He made it clear recently that he feels such a deal will be essential if Jordan is to make a real bid for a solid place among the best teams in the next year or two. What did he really mean by that and what are his chances of getting such a deal?

Montreal was a great place to consider engine performance. It consists of several drag strips interrupted by chicanes, with some of the drag strips - like the one leading up to the start/finish line - allowing speeds of up to 320 km/h. Cars run there with relatively low downforce, so horsepower isn't traded off against downforce as much as it is at most other tracks. It's significant that the teams test for Montreal at Monza, another circuit that places a premium on power.

Consequently it's my belief that the running order at Montreal gives a pretty good guide to the relative horsepower of the engines currently propelling Formula One cars. In fact, I may as well stick my neck out and - for the fun of it - rank the engines according to their likely horsepower, as I saw them based on the way that the cars performed in the Canadian Grand Prix before the rains came.

My ranking is:

  1. 860 bhp: Ferrari
  2. 850 bhp: Mercedes-Benz/Ilmor (McLaren) *
  3. 830 bhp: Honda (BAR) *
  4. 815 bhp: Mugen-Honda (Jordan)
  5. 810 bhp: Supertec (Benetton, Arrows)
  6. 790 bhp: BMW (Williams) *
  7. 785 bhp: Ford (Jaguar) *
  8. 780 bhp: Peugeot (Prost) *
  9. 775 bhp: Petronas-Ferrari (Sauber)
  10. 750 bhp: Customer Ford (Minardi)

The asterisks indicate that those engines are supplied as factory units - the kind of deal that Eddie Jordan is talking about. To be more precise, this means that the engines are available to the team FOC - free of charge. That's the hallmark of a works engine deal. I've left Ferrari out because it is a special case. The others without asterisks have to pay for their engine supply.

What's the outlook for 2001? First of all, Peugeot drops out. It has signed away its engine rights to an Asian company that may still supply its V10s, but at a price. Mercedes have confirmed that they won't let Ilmor supply another team, even on a customer basis. Renault will want to concentrate on their own team, formerly Benetton, but may continue to supply Arrows. BMW will work solely with Williams. Ferrari will still deliver to Sauber, at a price. Ford have their hands full trying to get the Cosworth engines up to speed.

Where does that leave Jordan? I don't see many options. Eddie must hope that Honda will be interested in hedging their bets by converting Mugen-Honda into an FOC works deal. He may even be trying to convince Ford that they should bolster the pitiful Jaguar presence in F1 by adding a works engine deal with Jordan to their commitment to Jaguar. That way Neil Ressler could gain some insight into whether his problems are owed to the Jaguar chassis or to the engine or to both; right now it's not too clear.

Above all, Jordan wants a works engine deal because it frees up his budget. Right away he would discover an extra $30 million a year that he could spend on other aspects of his team - especially on testing and aerodynamics. To recoup that it might even make sense to settle for a less powerful engine. Come to think of it, the Ford option makes a lot of sense, and not only for Jordan.

Karl Ludvigsen© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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Karl Ludvigsen's resume extends throughout the international automotive industry: he was Vice President of Ford of Europe, also responsible for Ford's European motor sports activity; He was the Vice President of Fiat Motors of North America; He was senior public affairs official with General Motors and previously a GM designer, where he planned experimental front-drive prototypes. In publishing and journalism, Mr. Ludvigsen has held editorial positions for several motoring publications. His work as author, co-author or editor of 17 books has won numerous awards. Among his books: "Juan Manuel Fangio" (1999), "Jackie Stewart: Triple Crowned King of Speed" (1998), and "Stirling Moss - Racing with the Maestro" (1997).