|From 1991 until 2005, Jordan's 'Rock and Roll' team heroically
took on the big guns and roughed them up in their own back yard.
Jordan Grand Prix was Eddie's pride and joy.
From 1996 to 2005, Benson & Hedges was the primary sponsor of Jordan. At races where the ban on cigarette advertising was in force, the name was substituted for "Bitten & Hisses" (in 1997 when Jordan's mascot was the snake Hissing Sid) or the names of the team's drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher, with additional 'S's, "Buzzing Hornets" (while the mascot was an unnamed hornet from 1998 to 2000), "Bitten Heroes" (during 2001, when the team's mascot was a shark), and from 2002 onwards 'Be On Edge' (BENSON & HEDGES). It was in the sponsor's first year that the team coloured their cars in the gold of their cigarette packet and then switched to yellow after that.
Jordan's success in lower formulae inspired the creation of a Formula One programme for the 1991 season and a change of name to Jordan Grand Prix. The first driver to test a Jordan F1 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.
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, which went to Prost, with Mugen Honda motors.
Up to the halfway point of the season, Jordan had failed to score a single point due to reliability problems. However, things improved greatly towards the end of the season. At that year's rain-soaked Belgian Grand Prix in which only six cars finished, Hill earned Jordan their first ever Formula One win, which was also Hill's 22nd career Grand Prix victory. 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 Heinz-Harald Frentzen at Suzuka enabled him to finish the race in fourth and also earned Jordan fourth in the Constructors Championship for 1998 (this was tempered by speculation that Frentzen had "gifted" the place to Hill, the German having confirmed a move to Jordan for 1999, after a tumultuous career with Williams).
The 1999 season was Jordan's most successful in F1, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen winning two races. The team finished third in the constructors' championship.
With Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher swapping teams for 1999 (Frentzen at Jordan and Ralf at Williams), the season was a nightmare for Hill, who was to retire at the end of the 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.
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 due to the car's initial pace being poor.
Pantano's season was dogged by sponsorship problems. He missed Canada due to a lack of funding, with Timo Glock stepping in to replace him. Glock managed to score two points on his debut, finishing just ahead of Heidfeld, although these had been earned after the two Toyota and Williams cars had been disqualified for brake duct irregularities. Later in the season, Glock replaced Pantano permanently. As in the previous season, the team finished ahead of only Minardi at the bottom of the constructors standings.
After Ford'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 cars. At the beginning of 2005, the team was sold to the Midland Group for US $60 million.
Tiago Monteiro at the 2005 United States Grand Prix.
The Jordan name was retained for the 2005 Formula One season, before being changed to Midland 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 former driver Eddie Irvine was interested in buying them. The year also saw the debut of two new rookie drivers, Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro. 2005 merely confirmed Jordan's status at the back of the grid. A final podium came in the highly controversial race at Indianapolis, with Monteiro leading home a Jordan 3-4. Monteiro managed an excellent eighth place at Spa in wet conditions to give the team its last ever point.
The final race for the team saw a low-key exit, with Monteiro finishing 11th and Karthikeyan crashing out spectacularly. Over the years Jordan introduced many star names to the sport, something that will not be forgotten. Jordan also has a link with the leading German drivers of the era, with Michael Schumacher, Ralf Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Timo Glock and Nick Heidfeld all driving for the outfit.