In what would be one of the most wild and chaotic of Formula One races, the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix would serve up a one-two finish that would stun even the most ardent gamblers. Similar in respects to its predecessor, the Jordan 198 would have one very important difference—the heart beating at the back.
Heading into the 1997 season, the Jordan Grand Prix team had had a number of different liveries. When the team made its Formula One debut in 1991 the team's cars would bear the Irish green referencing the Irish origins of its team owner. This color scheme would quickly give way to a varying lineup of liveries. In 1996, the sponsor Benson & Hedges would come on board with the team and the livery that year would be gold.
The 1997 season would see a change that would make the Jordan cars stand out every season, and even become a great source of intrigue. The Benson & Hedges sponsorship would remain but the gold livery would give way to a bright yellow. The nose of the car would also be adorned in a number of different animal motifs from a snake's head to a hornet.
Jordan had a car that could easily be spotted within the pack. It just needed to design and build a car that could train the eyes of the viewer to look toward the front, instead of in the middle, of the pack.
Gary Anderson had penned the striking 196. Intriguing with its four radiator inlets, two on each side, the design would be sleek and straightforward in many respects. However, as the season went on, both drivers would complain the car lacked the grip to contend with the top teams. The 3.0-liter Peugeot engine also lacked the power to give the car the speed it also needed to compete. Throughout the course of the season, Rubens Barrichello would get the most out of the car earning seven points-paying results to Martin Brundle's five. Still, changes needed to be made.
Anderson would set to work creating a much more conventional design. He would believe in the overall design of the 196 and would carry a good deal of its lines over into the new 197. The nose shape would be altered just slightly. The twin pillars attaching the wing to the nose would remain in a forward-leaning position. The same pushrod suspension arrangement would also be used.
The major differences between the 196 and the 197 would be most noticeable around the middle of the car. The head supports to either side of the driver's helmet would remain low, flowing into the rear bodywork of the car. The carbon-fiber monocoque around the cockpit of the car would be wider than the 196 as the inboard radiator inlet would be done away with in favor of a narrow inlet positioned out toward the outside of the sidepods.
The other obvious change around the cockpit of the car would be right above the head of the driver. While the 196 would feature an upside-down U-shaped airbox inlet, the 197 would use a much larger, oval-shaped airbox to feed air to the Peugeot engine.
The rear of the car would also change between the two models with the 197 boasting of a leading edge that attached to the engine bodywork and that was part of the rear wing endplates. These fences would be used to control airflow and would enable attachment points for smaller wing elements to be positioned ahead of the rear wheels and in front of the rear wing itself.
Competed with a Jordan 7-speed semi-automatic gearbox and Goodyear tires, the 197 would prove to be a leap forward for Jordan. While there would be some moments of controversy between Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella, the team would still enjoy one of its best seasons in Formula One. The best of the two drivers over the course of the season would be Fisichella as he would finish in all but 4 of the 17 races and would even stand on the podium in 2nd place at the Belgian Grand Prix.
It was clear Jordan was headed in the right direction, but they still needed just that little bit more to move from 2nd to the top step of the podium. That little bit more would come in the way of a company 'Without Limits'.
Honda would depart Formula One in the early '90s. However, Hirotoshi Honda, the son of the Honda Motor Company founder Soichiro Honda, would not be willing to leave the pinnacle of motorsport so quickly. He would take Honda engines and would prepare them for teams re-naming the engine after the Japanese word meaning 'Without Limits'. Mugen would begin supplying engines to more precariously-funded teams in 1991. When the Mugen-powered Ligier, driven by Olivier Panis, scored a surprising victory in the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, it would seem the Mugen engine had come of age and many teams in the Formula One paddock would begin fighting for the rights to the engine. And, in 1998, Jordan would be able to secure a two-year deal with the firm.
The Mugen V10 had already proven to be a strong engine, but the Japanese company would keep working to tweak even more power from its MF301H-C engine. Jordan would have its engine, Anderson would just need to design a car that could make the most of its power.
One very important element to the new 198 would be in the place as a result of the deal with Mugen. Another very important element would come along about the same time, and that would be the purchase of a wind tunnel by Jordan. Now, at any time of day or night, Anderson and his team could test components from the front to rear of the car to see how they complemented or hinder each other.
The results of the wind tunnel access would be obvious when the 198 would be unveiled. The lines of the 198 would be much sharper than what had been employed with the 197. The nose would still be narrow and pointed, but the actual depth of the bulkhead would be a bit more shallow. The edges of the nose would be more pronounced and sharper, cutting through the air efficiently. Once again, the twin pillars would be forward-leaning and still positioned rather close together.
The oval-shaped airbox inlet would be reshaped slightly but the actual area around the cockpit would be quite similar to the 197. What would be different around the middle of the car would be the radiator sidepods. As a result of wind tunnel testing the sidepods would be elongated and would be pulled in just ahead of the rear wheel to still allow the all-important airflow over the top of the rear diffuser. The radiator inlets themselves would be moved inboard and would be enlarged to provide better cooling.
The drag induced by the enlarged radiator inlets would be considered a satisfactory trade-off as the carbon-fiber monocoque structure would be worked and reworked until it actually came in under the necessary weight to meet the demands of the regulations. In order to meet the demands ballast would actually have to be installed in the car.
Powered by a stronger Mugen engine, the new 198 looked ready to compete on a larger stage. Unfortunately, the car would struggle throughout the early part of the season forcing Jordan to demand Anderson to revise his package. With the help of Mike Gascoyne, Anderson and his team would set to work changing the floor of the car and revising the double wishbone, pushrod suspension at the front and rear of the car. Anderson would retain the design much of the design at the rear of the car as, once again, it would allow for appendages to be added to suit the circuit. With further tweaking of the Mugen powerplant boosting power to around 690hp, the 198 would be reborn into a consistent challenger by August of that year. Of course the team would take an incredible leap forward when events would transpire in Belgium that would favor the team not only coming away with its first ever victory in Formula One but a one-two result on top of it all.
The Jordan 198 would end up being the beginning of Jordan's most successful period in Formula One. The following year would see the team finish a remarkable 3rd in the Constructors' Championship scoring two more race victories.
While amongst the Formula One fraternity and the vast history of astounding automobiles the Jordan 198 would not even crack the top ten, the car would certainly be special in a number of ways. Not only would it give Jordan its first victory in Formula One, it would also provide former World Champion Damon Hill his last. It would also kick off a very successful period for the Silverstone-based team. Therefore, in more ways than one, the 198 would have to be considered one of the special cars in Formula One history, at least Jordan's Formula One history. Sources:
'Jordan 198', (http://www.statsf1.com/es/jordan-198.aspx). Stats F1. http://www.statsf1.com/es/jordan-198.aspx. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
'Jordan 197', (http://www.statsf1.com/en/jordan-197.aspx). Stats F1. http://www.statsf1.com/en/jordan-197.aspx. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
'Jordan 196', (http://www.statsf1.com/en/jordan-196.aspx). Stats F1. http://www.statsf1.com/en/jordan-196.aspx. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jordan 196', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 April 2013, 22:47 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jordan_196&oldid=550716997 accessed 18 September 2013
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jordan 197', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2013, 21:34 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jordan_197&oldid=546396705 accessed 18 September 2013
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jordan 198', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2013, 21:33 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jordan_198&oldid=546396456 accessed 18 September 2013
Wikipedia contributors, 'Jordan Grand Prix', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 September 2013, 21:34 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Jordan_Grand_Prix&oldid=571700242 accessed 18 September 2013
Wikipedia contributors, 'Mugen Motorsports', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 July 2013, 09:54 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mugen_Motorsports&oldid=564207163 accessed 18 September 2013By Jeremy McMullen