Former Formula 1 team principal Eddie Jordan has revealed he had to pull strings with golfing star Nick Faldo in order to ensure Michael Schumacher could take part in the test which led to his grand prix debut.
Jordan found himself in need of a replacement for Bertrand Gachot at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix at short notice after his regular driver was imprisoned over an altercation involving a taxi driver. He chose to test Schumacher, who at the time was driving for Mercedes in the World Sportscar Championship.
However Jordan’s hopes of testing the 22-year-old in one of his cars at the Silverstone circuit next to the team’s factory were initially dashed.
“I desperately needed to test a car at Silverstone because we needed to run a driver who had never run in Formula 1 before,” Jordan told the Formula For Success podcast. “But I couldn’t get on to Silverstone because it had been booked by somebody.”
The circuit staff wouldn’t reveal who had booked the circuit. “So I jumped in my car, drove over to Silverstone to find none other than six-times major winner Nick Faldo in his 956 Porsche, which he couldn’t insure for the road, so he had hired the track for the day.”
Jordan and Faldo agreed to share the track. “I said to him ‘Nick I think we might have to come to some sort of a compromise here and a little bit of a deal.
“What if you would do me a massive, massive favour, when you’re not running the car could we run and when we’re not running you could run?’ And after a little bit of argy-bargy he struck a deal with me.”
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Faldo drove the Jordan 191 Schumacher tested, though he faced the inevitable challenges of fitting his 1.93-metre frame into the cockpit.
“Nick, when he tried to get in the car, couldn’t – as you could expect, because these cars are tiny things – so we had to squeeze him in sideways. The only problem was we couldn’t actually get the steering wheel on and that was a major job. If anything had happened I would have been up for manslaughter as this was suicidal, it should never have happened.
“But he wanted to drive the car at all costs. And he did drive the car. He would probably tell us how well he drove it, but we know different. But anyway, that’s Nick, he’s an absolute champion.”
Schumacher made his grand prix debut for Jordan in the following race at
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