Jordan deny release

 

Jordan yesterday denied reports that they were prepared to release Ralf Schumacher from his contract.

The younger brother of Germany's dual world champion Michael has taken legal action against Eddie Jordan's team, who are trying to prevent him from talking to Williams over a proposed four-year contract.

The 23-year-old's manager Willi Weber said yesterday: "Ralf is free. Jordan are no longer in talks with him. Negotiations with Williams are under way but apart from that I don't wish to say any more."

But Jordan said later: "On the contrary, Jordan will vigorously defend the writ issued by Ralf Schumacher in the High Court in London. A hearing is expected within the next 10 days."

Eddie Jordan had taken time off on Monday from celebrating his team's first Formula One success, in 127 starts, to launch an attack on Michael Schumacher over his efforts to encourage Ralf to move to Williams.

Jordan, who gave Schumacher his first drive in Formula One in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix before the German was snapped up by the Benetton team, said he "was not amused" by the behind-the-scenes actions of his former protege.

Ralf, who has driven for Jordan for the past two seasons, said Sunday's result would not change his mind. He was clearly unhappy about the team orders against trying to pass Hill when racing resumed on lap 32. Hill finished first and Schumacher second.

Ferrari star Eddie Irvine said last night that Jordan should let Schu macher go. "I don't think Ralf is anything special. Eddie should take the money and let him go.

"There are plenty of good up-and-coming young drivers around that are worth a gamble. Tora Takagi has done a good job."

Irvine had a torrid time in Belgium, including being hit on the head by a flying wheel at the starting line and then hurting his leg.

"My leg was the only part that was still sore the next day. But I'm out testing at the moment and I'll be fine," he said.

Irvine was among those to congratulate Jordan.

"It's absolutely fantastic. Eddie's worked very hard. It's an unbelievable achievement.

"I am really delighted for him and the team. No one deserved it more."

Jordan was yesterday recovering from a party at his house in Oxford.

"The reaction has been incredible," he said. "So many people - especially from Ireland - have been sending congratulations and everyone in the team very much appreciates the support."

Jordan has placed the spoils of victory, the Constructors Cup, in his Silverstone factory.

The Jordan team is the first to break through for a grand prix victory since Benetton won for the first time in Mexico in 1986.