Apparently a lot happened while I was away, and despite pre-publishing a few little posts, it seems as though the big news relating to McLaren (again) dominated the headlines. It is starting to seem as though 2007 will be remembered for all the controversy, inter-team battles and illegal movements of paperwork, wings and floors. But to gently get me back into the swing of things, I’ll just pretend the last two weeks didn’t happen until something next occurs in the saga that deserves a write up. For now at least, let’s talk about Mid-Jorker.
Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, there was a humble little Silverstone-based operation called Jordan. They were a team led by a canny Irishman who after competing himself, decided he would do better on the other side of the desk. Jordan were developed from lower formulae and they enjoyed some success in Formula One. Scoring points in their maiden season, debuting some drivers who went on to great and immeasurable success, and even acquiring the services of some who were once great themselves. They won a handful of races and even came tantalisingly close to challenging for a title one year.
But finance, as it always does in F1, got in the way, and eventually the smooth-talking facial-haired guru decided to sell. Wanting to ensure that the team continued, Eddie Jordan signed his business away to Midland, a large company who undoubtedly promised to invest lots of money and continue the progression of Jordan’s work. However, it wasn’t long before the cracks started to appear. Midland lacked passion and experience at running a competitive Formula One operation and eventually they too started to look around for a company to offload their burden onto.
Part-way through 2006, Dutch company Spyker stepped up to the plate and put in a serious bid. Spyker have been making road cars for a long time, but few have actually heard of them. Producing sports cars in low volumes and selling at prices only the Formula One drivers could afford, Spyker were clearly looking for a way to get their brand ‘out there’ a little more. The company itself was going through a bit of an upheavel and the F1 dream seemed like a great way to publicise their efforts off the track.
For the last few races of 2006, Midland raced under a new name and new colours. They obviously continued with the 2006 car that had been developed from the Jordan and spoke of big things for the little outfit. New sponsors were rafted in, money was pledged and new drivers were signed on as testers. 2007 has unfortunately proved to be just as fruitless as 2006 though, and still languishing at the bottom of the timing sheets the future doesn’t look too rosy for the Dutch squad. The only semi-experienced driver in their stable was fired because a sponsor hadn’t paid up, despite the sponsor claiming they weren’t supposed to be on the car for this season. Silly errors from their drivers and the odd clash between themselves leaves Spyker in a bit of a dire situation.
So you can imagine what is going through the owner’s minds. Sell, sell, sell. Alas, it seems as though it isn’t. At least that is what they are saying anyway. A statement issued today from the team suggests that they intend to only sell part of the team in order to raise some funds, and despite initial claims, the orange cars will continue for the remainder of the year.
Spyker F1 Team Ltd is completely confident that it has the necessary budget to race in the FIA Formula One World Championship this season. There is no doubt that we will be racing with our current driver line-up of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto in the Turkish Grand Prix and beyond. Colin Kolles.
The recent press statement issued by Spyker Cars N.V should not be taken as an indication that the team is in jeopardy of immediate closure. As part of its own strategic review and refinancing strategy Spyker Cars N.V is considering the (partial) sale of the Spyker Formula One Team. This is however but one possibility. Spyker Press Statement.
With the upheavel of the team since selling, I wonder if Eddie regrets his decision to move on. Jordan still attends the odd Grand Prix and over the previous off-season he even took part in a television series related to motor racing. But having seen Midland fail and now Spyker’s mumourings of troubled water, one has to mull over the posibility of another change.
I think it is fair to say that Jordan were missed by a lot of fans. The brand Eddie created out of his humble factory reached out to F1 fans around the world, and their successes were enjoyed by most members of the Paddock. Midland however appeared to disappear without trace, and while most of the personnel remained, the period in between Jordan and Spyker is only really evident through the results records. Will Spyker go the same way should the team be sold?
I’m don’t think I will miss Spyker as I don’t see what they add to the spectacle. I do support the underdogs, and still proudly wear my Minardi t-shirt sometimes. As odd as it sounds, that shirt reminds me to persevere and be determined – something Minardi did for so many years, occasionally picking up the odd point on the way. But Minardi had passion. They tirelessly worked away at the formula for so many years, only yielding results that aside from Mark Webber’s debut Grand Prix, are also resigned to the almanacs rather than the minds of the fans. Spyker, despite appearing to be more into it than Midland, they do lack the certain something that makes them memorable. The thing that makes them stand out as real underdogs battling against the giants of the sport.
I guess the questions I want to ask are thus:
If Spyker were sold or disbanded tomorrow, and you asked a new F1 fan if they had heard of Jordan, would they say yes? And would they give as positive an answer if you asked them if they have heard of Midland, or Spyker?
Would you miss the orange team? Or the yellow team, or the red and black team, whatever colour you associate with the squad…
Eddie Jordan was lucky enough to be promoted much as Lewis Hamilton has been lately – not hailed as the best thing since sliced bread exactly, but he got himself into the position where every ITV-F1 show had an interview with him in it somewhere.
Because of this, his popularity spread outwith the sport and his face and name became known to people who otherwise wouldn’t know a team owner if they turned up in their Cornflakes (*) one morning.
Therefore, I think that most people would know the name Jordan but less so Midland or Spyker.
And personally, I did miss Jordan a little bit when the name left the sport but Midland leaving didn’t bother me one bit – and neither would the absence of Spyker.
Cracking time to go on holiday by the way Ollie, it’s been very quiet in the world of F1 the past couple of weeks, honest… 😉
(*) Note, other breakfast cereals are available.
I think Jordan are missed only because of Eddie. The team had great moments as you say, but they were few and far between and found thenselves in a position where they just cannot progress (where I personally feel Williams could be if they’re not careful, but that’s another matter)
Minardi are missed because they were the underdogs but tried their very hardest to survive and that endeared us all to them.
Spyker haven’t had chance to win people’s hearts by being an underdog yet, those things take time… but a revolving door of ownership isn’t the best thing for anything either.
Thanks Craig for all the comments and involvement. And while I’m thanking people, thanks to everyone else who stopped by in the past fortnight and left their comments. I am pleasantly surprised by the activity and intend to take more vacations as a result! 😉
@Thomas: I think you’re right on the money there about Eddie, which falls into line with Craig’s thinking on promotion. While he was a joy to listen to, he certainly made a lot of it happen. It is a shame Midland/Spyker haven’t had enough time to generate a real following yet, and I hope the Dutch stay around for a little while longer. Who knows, I might start to enjoy their presence on the grid.
What a fortnight to take a holiday!!
Seriously though, welcome back. Hope you had a good holiday. 🙂
As far as the question about whether a new F1 fan would remember Jordan, Midland or Spyker, the big problem there is I can’t find any new F1 fans to ask, but that’s another story…
That said, if I could, I think they would probably remember Jordan (even some of the people I know who don’t like F1 at all remember Spa 1998!). I doubt any new F1 fan would remember Midland unless they were Russian and had good memories (they did make a big fuss at the launch). Spyker seems to have made more of an impact, but only on people who’ve been following F1 for a while or are Dutch (Spyker Cars have been in the news over there a lot, and Spyker F1 has naturally been caught up in the speculation – which is partly responsible for the possible sale).
Personally, I would miss the Spyker team if it got sold, as I did the Jordan team (a lot) and (to a much lesser extent) the Midland team. That said, the most likely scenario appears to be Michel Mol buying part of the team, it retaining the Spyker livery and name, and not much outward difference. As long as Spyker doesn’t end up getting sent back to Midland as a freebie transfer (possible if Spyker Cars misses its next instalment next month), I won’t get too upset.
By the way, I still associate the team with yellow-and-black, and have to remind myself when posting that the team’s current name has only one letter – “r” – in common with Jordan.
Alianora gives the clue: it’s all about colour. Jordan’s great days were the result of the cars being 7-Up green; thereafter, they were persuaded to become yellow and the bottom dropped out of their performance. Midland tried red so that they looked like Ferraris but that had been tried before by Scuderia Italia (Dallara) and it merely made the cars even worse. The most worrying thing about Spyker is that their Dutch orange looks like the red turning into yellow…
Seriously, though, the colour does have something to do with it. Eddie was (and presumably still is) a marketing genius – he seemed to be able to pull sponsors out of a hat at will. The 7-Up sponsorship would have been a major coup even for a front-running team in F1 – for beginners like Jordan it was very close to a miracle. The trouble was that, although Eddie could find the sponsors, he couldn’t hold on to them and eventually he’d run through them all.
People have trouble remembering Midland because they looked so much like Ferraris that they were constantly mis-identified by TV commentators as such – leading to irritation in the viewers at being fooled, even for brief moments. So, when Midland departed, everyone was glad to see them go.
And the colour of the Spykers is a dead giveaway to the fact that they’re romantics (or Michiel Mol is, anyway). The insistence of the Dutch on orange is a clear signal that they are dreamers living in the past and wish they could return to their glory days (when were they, you ask – believe it or not, the Brits fought several wars with them over the East Indies trade and the Dutch won all of them except the last – and it’s the last war that matters!). Unfortunately, any team that lives in the past is bound to have performance that would be more appropriate to an earlier age…
The other problem is that Midland never had any great days and Spyker’s only great day so far is that Winklehock lead at the European GP – which not many people outside F1 noticed. Jordan, on the other hand, managed to get into many and varied incidents – between some unlikely victories, some equally unlikely crashes and the off-track headlines, there was plenty of material with which to get noticed, and stay noticed.
And the other thing, Clive, is that Jordan went yellow (for the second time – the first was the disastrous 1992 season) in 1996, and stayed that way until 2005. While that period contained some of its biggest defeats, it also included most of the things Jordan is remembered for.
Never ruin a good story with the facts, Alianora. 😉
Hi , I would love to see eddie jordan buy back the team as I really do miss the jordans as I bet a large army of supporters do .
I know its a long shot , but do you think it would ever happen and is there anyway of someone asking him.
many thanks .
According to his autobiography, Eddie Jordan has already been asked by fans to return – as early as Monaco 2005, when he made his first appearance there after retirement. He did try to get back into F1 in March 2006, but I think he’s ruled out re-entry now. He said when criticising Honda in a recent F1 Racing column that Honda needed a twenty-year younger version of him as a leader, implying that he thinks himself too old for the job.
I’m sure that with the right backup he could still do the job if he wanted to. But I can’t see him returning, much as many of us would like him to do so.