Racing in their DNA: Part IV - Racing Point

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Jordan

Jordan Grand Prix was formed after Eddie Jordan decided to make the move up from F3000 and found that, despite his efforts, Team Lotus (which he had tried to buy) would not offer the easiest route into F1 he might have wished for.

Over the year 1989/90 he pooled his personal monies and set up the team with designer Gary Anderson who had been with him at the Jordan F3000 team and, in the belief that an actual running car was better than any picture or brochure to enhance potential sponsors, had their first car by October 1990. It would be driven by John Watson.

The car, originally known as the 911, was coloured green, both in reference to Eddie’s nationality and the deal he had agreed with the Irish Tourism Office but another name was about to join the show.

Eddie, ever the man on the look-out for a deal, heard that there might be a chance to approach Pepsi with regard to getting some sponsorship from their brand 7Up. The team later secured Fujifilm too after Eddie, basing his reasoning on the cars colour scheme, drew up a list of companies with green in their logo.

As their first season approached it seemed things were going well for the new outfit, until they received a letter from Porsche in Germany instructing them to stop using the 911 name. As the letter was written in German, it was not taken too seriously.

When, some weeks later, a second letter (in English) arrived with the same demand, Eddie went to see Porsche UK to fight his corner. He argued that, as the season was about to start, changing the car name would necessitate re-branding the whole operation. Porsche offered him a new 911 Carrera to offset any inconvenience and Eddie took the car and the 911 became the 191, without any additional cost to Jordan.

At the beginning of the 1991 season, the Team 7Up Jordan, powered by Ford, was ready and on the grid.

Jordan had hired Italian Andrea de Cesaris and Belgian Bertrand Gachot to race his first cars and they finished their first season fifth in the Constructors' Championship. Famously, Gachot was replaced for the Belgian round after being sent to prison for attacking a taxi driver. Never a dull moment.

His replacement was Michael Schumacher, for whom the team received $150,000 from Mercedes-Benz who wanted to give the young sportscar star experience of Grand Prix racing. Unfortunately for the team, although Jordan had an agreement in principle with Mercedes for Schumacher to remain for the rest of the season, Schumacher was signed by Benetton-Ford for the following race as Jordan and Mercedes had not signed a contract. The second seat was shared between Alessandro Zanardi and (ironically) former Benetton driver Roberto Moreno over the remainder of the season.

Although the first season had perhaps not gone entirely to plan, the team had certainly attracted attention – not least from Ayrton Senna, who called Eddie late in the year and assisted in his introduction to Sasol, a South African petroleum company. The company, encouraged by their government to promote their business on a wider stage, were looking for an F1 team and Senna saw an opportunity to help both Jordan and his friend Maurício Gugelmin.

Jordan secured the Sasol sponsorship and, for 1992 had a new paint job, a new engine – the Yamaha OX99, and new drivers; Stefano Modena and Maurício Gugelmin. Unfortunately the Yamaha V12 was not as good as had been hoped and the team didn’t score a single point until the last race of the season.

In 1993, now powered by Hart, new driver Rubens Barrichello saw six different drivers fill the second seat across the season. The team improved slightly, scoring three points and near the end of the season Barrichello was joined by Eddie Irvine, a Jordan driver in F3000. Irvine finished sixth, securing a point on his debut at Suzuka.

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Barrichello, Irvine and Hart engines remained for the 1994 season and Barrichello took the team’s first top three finish at the Pacific Grand Prix, though had a near fatal crash at the next round at San Marino. Barrichello went on to earn Jordan's first pole position in Belgium and finished sixth in the Drivers' Championship. The team finished the season fifth in the Constructors' Championship – an achievement that stunned the big teams.

Jordan switched to Peugeot power in 1995. During the Canadian Grand Prix that year, Barrichello and Irvine finished second and third respectively. It was the highlight of the year and they finished sixth in the Championship.

Irvine left in 1996 to join Ferrari and was replaced by Martin Brundle. Both drivers’ missed the podium, though did manage a number of fourth-place finishes and the team again finished fifth among the constructors. 1996 was also the year in which the team adopted the bright-yellow colour scheme.

In 1997 both drivers left. They were replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella who moved from Minardi and Ralf Schumacher. Fisichella led the race at Hockenheim before a hole in his radiator led to his retirement. He also achieved the fastest race lap during the race in Spain and his two podiums across the season helped the team to again finish fifth in the Championship.

In 1998, the former World Champion Damon Hill, a graduate of Jordan's F3000 programme, replaced Fisichella and the team changed from Peugeot to Mugen-Honda power units. Reliability issues affected them badly and they failed to score a single point in the first half of the season. Jordan added Mike Gascoyne from Tyrrell to the technical team though technical director Gary Anderson later resigned. Things improved and at the rain-soaked Belgian Grand Prix in which only six cars finished, Hill earned Jordan their first ever Formula One win, with Ralf Schumacher second. Jordan finished fourth in the 1998 Constructors' Championship.

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Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher swapped teams for 1999 (Frentzen joining Jordan) and Frentzen scored two victories and a pole position. He had entertained thoughts of a world title, but finished third in the Drivers' Championship, with the team also finishing third amongst the Constructors'. 1999 was to be the team's finest season, though less so for Hill, who retired at the end of the season

For the 2000 campaign, Hill was replaced by Jarno Trulli, who impressed in qualifying but was unable to reach the podium. Frentzen was unable to repeat his form from 1999 and the team slipped back to sixth in the Constructors' Championship.

In 2001, Jordan kept both drivers but switched to works Honda engines as already used by rival team BAR. Honda were keen to only supply one team and this led to a battle for the right to use the Honda engines, Frentzen was released and, depending which version you believe, the reason was either a number of disagreements he had with Eddie Jordan or that Jordan wanted to bring in Takuma Sato for 2002 in an attempt to satisfy Honda. Ricardo Zonta was a one-time replacement for Frentzen at the German Grand Prix before Jean Alesi took the seat. Trulli finished in the points four times, and, for the fifth time, the team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship - ahead of BAR.

In 2002, Jordan brought back Fisichella, who was joined by Takuma Sato. A reduction in sponsorship income led to a drop off across the season, though Fisichella often qualified well, but could only achieve a trio of fifth places and a sixth place in Hungary. Sato showed some promise, but managed to get just two points at his home race. Jordan still managed sixth in the championship, two places ahead of main rivals BAR.

Honda left Jordan before the 2003 season to concentrate on their partnership with BAR and Jordan resorted to Ford Cosworth engines. The season was not a success and they finished ninth in the standings, though they did win a race.

The Brazilian Grand Prix took place in heavy rain and, after a massive accident on the start/finish straight, the race was red flagged. After some initial confusion, Giancarlo Fisichella was initially ruled to have finished second behind Kimi Räikkönen who took the top step on the podium. However, an FIA inquiry several days later led to Fisichella being officially declared the winner of his first F1 race. Fisichella was therefore unable to celebrate his first career victory on the top step of the podium, although he and Räikkönen swapped their drivers' trophies in an impromptu ceremony at the following race in San Marino, while McLaren's Ron Dennis handed over the constructors' trophy to Eddie Jordan.

Fisichella and rookie teammate Ralph Firman were unable to achieve any more success in their EJ13s. Firman was injured in practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix and Jordan fielded the first ever (and so far only) Hungarian Formula One driver, Zsolt Baumgartner. Firman was back in the car for the final two rounds but was unable to add to the point he had won in Spain. Fisichella only added two more points on top of his win and, unhappy at the team's form, he moved to Sauber.

In June 2003 Jordan sued Vodafone for £150 million, claiming the company had made a verbal contract for a three-year sponsorship, but then given it to Ferrari instead, although the legal action was withdrawn two months later. Jordan agreed to pay Vodafone's costs but the loss of sponsorship revenue and the costs incurred by Jordan were a major financial blow from which the team did not recover.

In 2004, Jordan struggling financially and facing an uncertain future, chose Nick Heidfeld, former Sauber and Prost driver, and the Italian rookie Giorgio Pantano as the drivers. Poor initial pace meant that, whilst Heidfeld showed promise, he could not achieve many good results. Pantano, facing sponsorship issues, was replaced in Canada by Timo Glock, who managed to score two points on his debut, finishing just ahead of Heidfeld. Later in the season, Glock replaced Pantano permanently. The team finished just ahead of Minardi at the bottom of the constructors standings.

Ford’s decision to put Cosworth up for sale left Jordan without an engine deal going in to the 2005 season. However, at short notice a deal was agreed for Toyota to supply Jordan with engines identical to those in their works team cars.

Then, at the beginning of 2005, the team was sold to the Midland Group for a reported US$60 million.

Midland F1

Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider, owner of the Midland Group, had confirmed in 2004 that they had plans to enter Formula One, creating a team for the 2006 season. They considered buying the Jaguar team, before, instead buying the Jordan team from Eddie Jordan. This saved them from the Formula One new entry bond of $48 million as the team would be a legal continuation of Jordan. Midland could also claim the television revenue generated by Jordan's subsequent ninth place in the constructors' championship.

The ’new’ team was registered as Russian in recognition of Shnaider’s family roots, though it would still be based at the Jordan facility at Silverstone and was the first Russian Formula One team.

The team retained Jordan's name for the 2005 season but struggled at the back of the grid with rookie drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro, who took third-place at the infamous US Grand Prix, before securing eighth at Spa gaining the Jordan name its final F1 point.

Many observers were unsure of just how long the new operation would stay around. This wasn’t helped by suggestions that the team was already for sale. One such suggestion was that Eddie Irvine had expressed interest in buying the team.

Despite their troubled start, the team returned though the Jordan name was changed to Midland MF1 Racing for the 2006 season.

Over the winter Russian driver Roman Rusinov tested a new car, the Midland M16 with a new livery (red, white and black to reflect Midland Group's corporate colours) and Toyota engines. MotoGP motorcyclist Max Biaggi also tested the car at Silverstone in January. Shnaider had been insistent that Midland intended to field Formula One's first Russian driver -but instead signed Dutchman Christijan Albers and retained Tiago Monteiro.

As the 2006 season went on, the team went from running ahead of Super Aguri but behind everyone else, to consistently sparring with other midfield teams such as Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso although it only ever finished ahead of crippled cars, Super Aguri and the occasional Toro Rosso. Much of that progress was down to tyre development from Bridgestone coupled with significant improvements in aerodynamics and handling (overseen by Simon Phillips and Richard Frith respectively). The improved performance saw the team begin to make it into the second qualifying session on an occasional basis - eight times out of a possible thirty six overall - with a best qualifying position of fourteenth.

Unfortunately this increased mid-season performance did not translate into hard results as the team were involved in a number of first-lap accidents, notably at Monaco, Indianapolis and Montreal. The team was disqualified from the German Grand Prix for running a flexible wing in contravention of the sport's technical regulations.

They went from being around four seconds off the pace per lap in 2005 to around two seconds per lap off at the time of its sale to Spyker cars in September 2006.

Rumours had been floating about in the paddock throughout the mid-season about the possible sale of the team, less than two years after Shnaider originally bought it from Eddie Jordan. Reports suggested a price tag of $128 million, and that Shnaider was seriously considering the possibility of the sale.

Spyker F1

On September 9th 2006, it was revealed that the team was sold to Spyker Cars. Spyker reportedly paid $106.6 million for the team and Shnaider left the team, though Colin Kolles remained as team principal.

Michiel Mol became the new Director of F1 racing and member of the Spyker board and Mike Gascoyne joined as Chief Designer at the end of the season. The cars appeared in a revised Orange livery for the final three races of 2006. Name changes are not allowed mid-season, but Spyker were legitimately able to name themselves as the team's title sponsor, so the team raced in the last four Grands Prix under the official name "Spyker MF1 Racing". In 2007, the team competed as Spyker F1.

Former Midland drivers Christijan Albers and Tiago Monteiro were retained for the remaining part of the 2006 season, while it was also confirmed at Spyker's debut race in China that Albers would be staying with the successor team for the 2007 season.

The team used customer 2006-spec Ferrari engines in 2007, replacing the Toyota units, which went to the Williams team. Although the team remained based in the UK, it chose to register under the Dutch motor racing authority and therefore run under the Dutch flag during 2007, reflecting its new ownership.

For the second race driver, Spyker promoted one of their 2006 third drivers, Adrian Sutil. The official FIA entry list for 2007 assigned the team car numbers 20 and 21, as Albers wanted to drive a car with an odd number; he raced with number 21 and Sutil 20.

In March, Spyker announced a sponsor deal with Etihad Airways and Aldar Properties, two companies from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The official name of the entrant during the season was Etihad Aldar Spyker F1 Team.

On 10th July, Albers was released from his Spyker contract, due to a lack of sponsorship money, which would have compromised the team's development programme. Mol described it as "one of the toughest decisions of my career" - Albers' replacement for the 2007 European Grand Prix was Markus Winkelhock.

During the 2007 European Grand Prix, Winkelhock became the only driver to lead a Grand Prix in a Spyker, due to the team's tyre selection. However, he later lost his race seat to Sakon Yamamoto.

On 30th September at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, the team scored its first and only championship point.

Sutil finished ninth on the track, but was promoted to eigth place and into the points scoring positions when stewards ruled post-race that Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi had overtaken Sutil under a yellow flag.

In the middle of August came the announcement that Spyker Cars considered that it might need to sell all or part of the team due to a potential split of the team from its parent company.

The team was sold to a consortium named "Orange India" led by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya and Dutch entrepreneur Michiel Mol after approval by Spyker's shareholders. Mallya attended the Chinese Grand Prix as team owner and the team was renamed Force India for the 2008 season.

Force India

Force India Formula One Team Limited was formed in October 2007, when a consortium led by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya together with Michiel Mol bought the Spyker F1 team for €88 million.

After going through twenty nine races without scoring points, Force India won their first Formula One World Championship points and podium place when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Force India scored points again in the following race when Adrian Sutil finished fourth, and set the team's first fastest lap, at the Italian Grand Prix.

In September 2009, Force India announced that they were releasing Fisichella from his contract to allow him to race for Ferrari for the remainder of the season. It was announced four days later that test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi would drive the second Orange, white and Green car, replacing Fisichella for the remaining races.

In October 2011, Indian company Sahara India Pariwar purchased 42.5% of Force India F1's shares for US$100 million. A few years later, Vijay Mallya could not afford enough to run Force India. In July 2018, ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the team announced that they had been put into administration by the High Court in London.

The team's other podium finishes are five third-places, in the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, 2015 Russian Grand Prix, 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, 2016 European Grand Prix and the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, all achieved by Sergio Pérez.

The 2017 VJM10 brought a change to a pink livery, following a new sponsorship deal with BWT, leading to the 'Pink Panther' nickname used for the cars by fans, commentators and on the teams’ social media.

For the 2018 season the team retained the 2017 line up of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon. At the opening race in Australia, Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon finished eleventh and twelfth respectively.

The team was put into administration during the Hungarian Grand Prix. The legal action was instigated by a group of creditors, including Sergio Pérez, as a means of allowing the team to continue to operate while a new owner was sought. Pérez justified the action as a response to a winding-up petition filed by HMRC and supported by Formtech, a supplier, which would have resulted in an unmanaged insolvency of the company and almost certain collapse of the team.

The team's assets were bought by a consortium of investors, named Racing Point UK and led by Lawrence Stroll, the father of then Williams driver Lance Stroll. The consortium used the assets to create a new entry into the sport named Racing Point Force India, securing the jobs of the four hundred strong work force in the team. Robert Fernley stood down from his former Force India role of deputy team principal, whilst Otmar Szafnauer became team principal and CEO after being chief operating officer.

Approaching the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, the situation regarding the team's ability to compete remained unsure - in order to buy the shares in the team, the consortium needed agreement with the creditors of the parent company - including thirteen banks which held a freezing order over the assets of the parent. Agreement could not be reached in time, so the consortium was unable to buy the shares, and was limited to buying only the assets of the team. The team then had to participate in the F1 Championship under a new name, adding "Racing Point" to the team's name.

The former Force India entry was excluded by the FIA from the championship "due to its inability to complete the season", and, though it welcomed the new Racing Point Force India F1 Team that was allowed to race, they could not keep any points of the old team. However, the drivers were able to keep their points in the Drivers' Championship and, under the terms of a special agreement made with the unanimous approval of the nine other teams, the new entity was allowed to keep the prize money the old team had earned in the preceding years under the Sahara Force India name.

This signalled the end of the constructor that had been founded for the 2008 season.

Racing Point Force India Formula One Team

The team formed in August 2018 made its competitive debut at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix where Perez and Ocon finished fifth and seventh respectively – their highest finishes for the remainder of the season. Racing Point Force India collected fifty two points in total in the 2018 season and finished the season seventh in the Constructor’s Championship.

The team was renamed in February 2019 as Racing Point F1 Team.

Racing Point F1 Team

Racing Point confirmed in November 2018 that Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez would be the two drivers for the 2019 season, which also saw the team branded as "SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team", acknowledging lead sponsor SportPesa.

The team scored points at each of the first four races of the season, including a double points finish in Azerbaijan. But despite their early success, the team began to struggle as the season went on. They did improve in the second half of the season following a number of upgrades ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix and, over the next nine races, Pérez scored points in eight of them, retiring from the Singapore Grand Prix with an oil leak. The team finished the season in seventh place.

At the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix, the team confirmed Stroll had been re-signed for 2020 and that Pérez had been signed until the end of 2022, meaning that, if he fulfils this term, Pérez will have spent nine consecutive seasons with the team since joining in 2014, across four different names – quite possibly a record.

SportPesa ended their title sponsorship arrangement with Racing Point, with Austrian water technology company BWT becoming the team's new title sponsor.

The team's drivers for the 2020 season are Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll. The team will be rebranded to Aston Martin for the 2021 Formula One season.

What are your thoughts on the Pink Panther's story? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments (3)

  • It has had quite a ride.

      13 days ago
  • Another good read on the (interesting) history and evolution of this team - hopefully a bit of stability is now on the cards...

      13 days ago
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