Top Five Jordan Drivers

5 08 2010

Over the past few days I’ve been watching some old grands prix, which has made me nostalgic for one of the F1 teams of my youth; Jordan Grand Prix. Between 1991 and 2005 Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team weaved their own path through F1, debuting with the beautiful 191, introducing the nose art with Hissin’ Sid before following it up with the Buzzin’ Hornets and ending with the Bitten Heroes, finally shutting up shop due to skyrocketing costs. The team still lives on as Force India, but I’m going to look back at the halcyon days and pick my top five Jordan drivers.

1. Heinz-Harald Frentzen

After impressing in Group C sports cars at Sauber Mercedes (alongside a certain Michael Schumacher) he made his debut with Peter Sauber’s squad, he then ousted Damon Hill from Williams and performed… woefully. Only one win in the title winning FW19 just wasn’t good enough for Frank and Patrick, so he packed his bags and ended up at Jordan for 1999. Eddie brought out the best in him, a brace of wins and four other podiums made him an unlikely championship contender right up until his retirement from the lead of the European GP. He frankly embarrassed his teammate, 1996 World Champion (whose Williams seat he took in 1997) winning 54 points to Hill’s 7. 2000 was less stellar but he still picked up two podiums before he was acrimoniously fired on the eve of the 2001 German GP.

2. Rubens Barrichello

Rubens takes my second slot simply down to his tremendous loyalty and consistency. He raced for a full four seasons from 1993 to 1996, with the underpowered Hart V10 in the back of his 193 and 194 through to the ridiculously ugly bright gold Peugeot powered 196. He picked up the team’s first podium at the 1994 Pacific Grand Prix with third place at Aida, he also collected the team’s first second place finish at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix leading teammate Eddie Irvine who finished third himself. During his time at the team he outscored every single one of his teammates, all eight of them.

3. Giancarlo Fisichella

After his 1996 debut with Minardi he moved to Jordan the following season scoring his first podium at the 1997 Canadian GP, picking up a second at the Belgian GP and unfortunately suffering a puncture when leading the German GP at Hockenheimring. Trouble when leading seems to be a bit of a Jordan trait. Anyway, his impressive season meant he got picked up by Benetton, which was a bit of a misstep as this coincided with a disastrous decline for the team, so after four seasons he ended up back at Jordan. He hustled the uncompetitive EJ12 to a bunch of points in 2002 and then at the 2003 Brazilian GP he acheived what would turn out to be Jordan’s final win in absolutely bizarre circumstances (seriously, if you don’t know what happened, look it up). His performances kept the struggling team going for just that little bit longer.

4. Damon Hill

I was never a Damon Hill fan, and his last season in F1 was a bit of a disaster, but for collecting Jordan’s first race win at the frankly amazing Belgian GP of 1998 he gets onto the list. Plus his helmet looked really cool when juxtaposed to the bright yellow of those Buzzin’ Hornets.

5. Tiago Monteiro

Now this one may seem a little strange, but when this Portuguese racer made his debut for the team in 2005 few would have guessed that he would set two records. He would go on to finish 18 of the 19 races that season, making him the man with the most finishes in one season, he also holds the record for consecutive finishes by a rookie driver by finishing his first 16 races beating the record previously held jointly by Jackie Stewart (in 1965) and Olivier Panis (in 1994) of six races. His only retirement would be at the Brazilian GP, and that was due to mechanical failure, no race crashes in a debut season is rather impressive in my book. He also picked up Jordan’s final podium by finishing third at the ever-so-slightly controversial United States GP that year.

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