'He has the Midas touch' - Jordan on Aston’s biggest weapon - The Race
Formula 1

‘He has the Midas touch’ – Jordan on Aston’s biggest weapon

Feb 6 2021
By Scott Mitchell

Eddie Jordan’s old Formula 1 team has had a few different names since he had any control over it, and in becoming Aston Martin’s works entry it’s arguably further from its origins than ever.

There are many common connections, of course. So much of the team is still the same, including senior personnel like technical director Andrew Green and sporting boss Andy Stevenson. While a new factory is being constructed, the team’s current digs are still those from the ‘good old days’.

And Jordan may also, not too generously, view himself and new team owner Lawrence Stroll as something of kindred spirits, sharing a love of business and F1 and a relationship stretching back 30-odd years.

But Stroll’s stewardship of ‘Team Silverstone’ has already moved it to a level Jordan could only have aspired to years ago. Its other iterations never even lived up to the original one, let alone the present one. So, this has the ingredients to be the-team-formerly-known-as-Jordan’s most lucrative spell yet.

The man who started it all is fully behind that, and the man making it happen. Jordan reckons the team’s latest transformation to become Aston Martin proves it’s in “the very best of hands”, and his praise of Stroll doesn’t stop there.

“Never, ever rule out the father, Lawrence Stroll,” says Jordan, speaking to The Race around the news of his own ‘in at the ground floor’ investment in Guestia, a travel and hospitality app used by the McLaren F1 team.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Tuscan Grand Prix Race Day Mugello, Italy

“He has that Midas touch, everything he does he turns to gold.

“He is the smartest instrument in Formula 1 at the moment, without any question.”

That’s a big weapon for a racing-focused team to have. Much has been made of the resources the Stroll-led investment unlocks, allowing the team to stop trying to punch above its weight and bring itself level with its would-be rivals instead. But to appreciate the opportunity the team now has, it’s important not to lose sight of what it’s been through.

Jordan sold his eponymous team in 2005 and the name disappeared the following year, with the Silverstone-based team becoming Midland F1, Spyker and then Force India through a series of ownership changes in just three seasons.

As Force India it enjoyed more stability and giant-killing performances reminiscent of the Jordan era, but also faced persistent financial challenges – a less-desired trait it had in common with the team’s initial form.

In the summer of 2018 Force India fell into administration and the assets were purchased by a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, who relaunched the team – with the same cars, personnel and facilities – as Racing Point for the remainder of the season.

The Racing Point identity continued into 2019 and again in 2020, but last year Stroll led another major investment into Aston Martin Lagonda and part of that deal was to rebrand his F1 team in the Aston name.

Aston Martin Cognizant

We’re a little way off seeing the new livery for the first time, or star signing Sebastian Vettel in British racing green, but Aston’s takeover of the team is already in full effect. Another major addition has been IT giant Cognizant as title partner, while Stroll is talking about aligning the team with more heavy-hitting companies and brands.

As Jordan, this team was a little more rough-and-ready. But its 72-year-old founder, now only tangentially involved in F1 as a pundit and focused more on business ventures like Guestia, says he only looks upon its current era “with a lot of pleasure” – not least because for all the new and exciting changes at the team there is still a direct link to its past.

“What I love about it is the loyalty,” Jordan says. “Andy Green is there, people like Andy Stevenson – he came to me in 1984 or ’85, and his story is ridiculous.

“I kind of gave him a rubbish job on Johnny Herbert’s car and then a better job on [Jean] Alesi’s car and then he went up on [Michael] Schumacher’s car. And he stayed there, he’s never moved, and he is now sporting director of the team.

“That’s the kind of thing I love. I love loyalty. Andy Green, let’s see what he can produce, and what he can make – they’ve got the Mercedes engine and the technical collaboration. They will be very strong.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship 70th Anniversary Grand Prix Race Day Silverstone, England

The mix of devoted, talented personnel and sensible strategic decisions like a Mercedes affiliation comfortably pre-date the Stroll era. They were a core part of what made Force India so effective for so long.

But moving beyond being a plucky underdog is where Stroll comes in. This is the team’s chance to become a bona fide big-hitter.

And Jordan is convinced that, in addition to simply existing because of Stroll’s mid-2018 investment, the team would be nowhere near where it is now without his involvement.

Jordan isn’t speaking as someone only observing Stroll from afar. While the billionaire’s direct F1 involvement has only been noted publicly since he funded his son Lance’s move to Williams in 2017 and then became a key figure himself with the Force India salvation, he has held an interest for as long as the team he now owns has existed. Maybe even longer.

“I’ve known Lawrence for a very long time,” says Jordan.

“He was extremely welcoming and friendly to me when the Jordan team first went to Canada. It was a long time ago but I remember, finishing fourth and fifth. And that was in our very early days and Lawrence was one of the first people around to congratulate us.

“I remember being in this house for dinner on occasions in ’91, ’92. So, he’s been a fan for a long time.

Canadian GP Jordan 1992 F1

“He got a little bit of help with his dad, and I’m talking about a very modest amount of help, but he turned that around into five times the value – and then he invested that and that made 10 times the value.

 

“He started from something relatively small – more than what most people would have, but at the same time tiny compared to where he is now. I mean absolutely tiny.

“He has been a revelation, he’s one of the greatest entrepreneurial minds that you could get. Everything he does turns to gold, whether it’s Michael Kors, whether it’s Tommy Hilfiger, whether it’s the fragrance brand, whether it’s a jeans company. Everything that he does.

“And remember he’s come in, and he’s taken over, effectively, a team in administration or bankruptcy, call it what you like, with Force India. And they won a race at the end of last year.

“Who’d have ever thought that that could have happened? You have to give them absolutely massive credit.”

Sebastian Vettel

The extent of the turnaround in fortunes for the team is perhaps best exemplified by Vettel’s arrival. OK, the four-time world champion was forced out by Ferrari and didn’t willingly swap red for (presumably) British racing green.

But he was very quickly tempted by the Aston project and has clearly bought into the Stroll-led vision. Jordan believes it to be a very shrewd appointment, comparing it to his still-young team signing Damon Hill for the 1998 season.

Apr 16 : S1 E5: How Jordan nearly won the 1999 F1 world championship

“The team has chosen Vettel because of the knowledge he has, as a four-time world champion,” says Jordan.

“I can speak from experience, Hill coming to me wasn’t necessarily the quickest driver in the world, but he was hugely knowledgeable, hugely talented, and he had an ability to impart information and knowledge to us, to be able to build a far better car.

“I do believe that that’s where Vettel will be really strong. And I think the team will be a lot stronger as a result.”

Jordan also reckons Vettel’s move to Aston has a Mercedes element to it. Having spent the last few years trying and failing to topple the British-based, German-backed team with Ferrari, Vettel finally has the title-winning V6 turbo-hybrid engine at his disposal. But Jordan, never afraid to speculate, believes Mercedes will have played a part in Vettel’s move as well.

And, he says, it all loops back to Stroll – without whom none of this would be possible.

Toto Wolff Lawrence Stroll F1

“There’s no doubt that Vettel was enticed to come to the team because of Mercedes,” Jordan says.

“It’s not a Mercedes full team but it is a huge involvement of Mercedes in this team, and they will have wanted to see Vettel being part of it, that’s for sure.

“And as a result, looking on as an observer number one but with passion from the past, I think what was Jordan is in the very best of hands – primarily due to the ownership and the structure of Lawrence Stroll.”

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