The story of the Spyker team is quite an extraordinary one which starts way back in 1991. Well, it does go further, but for now, let’s just stick with Formula One. So the Jordan F1 team was founded in 1991, and Irish owner Eddie Jordan set about racing his own cars in motor racings elite series. Things went well for Eddie, and the team went from strength to strength. They gave Michael Schumacher his break in their inaugural year among other things.
But in 2005, the team was officially sold to the Midland group, renamed and rebranded. This didn’t do much to help the failing squad, and results didn’t really materialise. Tiago Monteiro did get a lucky podium in the US Grand Prix, but that was only because the grid was formed of six cars. By mid-2006, the Midland group pulled out and the team was sold to Dutch sports car company, Spyker. A further renaming ceremony and a hastily rebranded car raced in the final Grands Prix of last year bring us up to the present day.
How will Spyker fair in their first full season of racing? Well, they have a few good things going for them, but they also need a few things sorting out before they can really improve their lot. But firstly, let’s see about the good things.
Spyker have continued with Christijan Albers – a Dutch driver – who raced for Midland last year and knows his way around a Formula One car. While results didn’t happen for Albers last year, he certainly put in some sterling performances and wrestled his car around the circuits well. Having the Toyota engine in the back of his car certainly helped, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for Christijan. Although Albers recently admitted that he is “running out of time to win the title”, the 27 year old is still hungry.
Partnering Christijan will be rookie driver Adrian Sutil. Adrian managed to get his maiden F1 drive after beating competition from the likes of previous driver Tiago Monteiro, and he intends to make full use of this opportunity. Adrian has raised a few eyebrows in the paddock recently, and Nico Rosberg has spoken of his admiration for the young German driver. Sutil is on a long term contract, and Spyker is hoping that their new young charger will stick around, and he will do well to become a man to revolve the team around. But that is only if Spyker stay around for long enough.
The Dutch team will also ditch Toyota power this year in favour of Ferrari, who signed a contract to supply the team in Shanghai last year. The news is positive and should aid the teams reliability.
Also on the Spyker books is experienced technology officer, Mike Gascoyne. Gascoyne joined the team after being dumped by Toyota last season and his presence in the team will be positive and productive – Gascoyne knows how to turn teams around and will not waste a second.
So it seems that Spyker have everything going for them. The team have new sponsors, and a fair amount of them it seems. Their new car is built and has been running reasonably well in testing. They have a balanced driver line up and some good key personnel working in the background. A sure bet?
If only it were that simple. While the Spyker car has been racking up the mileage at Silverstone and in Spain, the team haven’t been able to match Williams pace (the only team to have really run with them) and as with last year, it just seems that the car is lacking in the aero/grip department. What’s more, their nearest rival in 2006 – Super Aguri – are looking at making a large step forward this year. Although Aguri are still to launch their new car, if it is allowed to run, it could well mean that Spyker are left at the back with no one to play with.
It is a great shame to see the Jordan team go from one owner to another, almost devaluing the once great team that came so very close to winning a title. But I hope Spyker stick around with the squad to see it through. With perseverance, winning is possible – the teams own history is proof of that.
However, I don’t believe it will happen this year, so I imagine that 2007 will be another uneventful year for Spyker, whose only competition will surely come from hastily-remodelled-due-to-legality-issues Super Aguri or a poorly setup Red Bull or Toro Rosso.
2007 Constructors Prediction: 11th