Wednesday August 15th, 2001
Eddie Jordan must wait for rival team boss Flavio Briatore to make a driver decision before finalising his line-up for 2002, after it emerged on Wednesday that Italian Giancarlo Fisichella is considering a "very strong" offer from the Irishman.
Jordan, who is in negotiations with current drivers Jean Alesi and Jarno Trulli for next year, has also offered Fisichella a deal in an effort to sign him from Benetton. But Jordan is aware that Briatore and Renault own the contracts of both Fisichella and Trulli - leaving them with first option on who will partner Jenson Button next season.
But Fisichella, who already drove for Jordan back in 1997, is currently holding fire on whether he will remain with Benetton after only being offered a one-year deal to remain as Button's teammate.
"We have a very strong offer from Jordan," said Fisichella's manager Gianpaolo Matteucci. "But we are waiting until midnight today, because that is the terms of the option from Benetton. At the moment we have three current offers. We have received an offer from Renault, one from Jordan, and there has been a discussion with Arrows.
"We are now in negotiations with Mr Briatore to see what is the best. Giancarlo is very happy to remain with Benetton because we know them very well and we have a very strong emotional feeling there, but Renault is only offering one year."
Matteucci believes the decision on which team to drive for next year will be crucial for Fisichella's future, and suggested that the Jordan option, which is for more than one year, could offer the 28-year old more chance of success in the long-term.
"This is a crucial point in Giancarlo's career and maybe another manufacturer like Honda could put strong backing behind him," said Matteucci.
Briatore, however, is believed to be keen on taking on Trulli, who is contracted to Benetton but currently racing with Jordan. Trulli, also an Italian, has been impressive in the Jordan-Honda and is said to be disappointed with the team's performance this year.
But Matteucci denied suggestions that the Jordan driver was the key man in negotiations and said that he expects things to come to a head in Hungary.
"It is one situation influencing another," he said of Trulli and Fisichella. "During Hungary we will talk and for sure it will be a very important weekend. Jordan wants a strong driver line-up, Giancarlo and Jarno are the same, and at the moment Giancarlo has a lot of influence. Maybe it will be the two together."
It is, however, unlikely that Renault would allow Trulli and Fisichella to join forces in another team and are likely to want to keep hold of one, although they are also not thought to be interested in taking them as a pair themselves.
Published at 12:36:34 GMT