Mansell backs out of fast lane


DESPITE Nigel Mansell's encouraging test with Jordan Grand Prix in Barcelona last week, the 1992 world champion has decided not to contest the 1997 Formula One world championship.

In announcing his decision, the 43-year-old, 31-time Grand Prix winner, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed my test in Barcelona and the professionalism and atmosphere of the B and H Jordan team was as good as any I have ever worked with. Eddie Jordan has created something very special. Having seen their facility, and the 1997 car, I honestly believe that the team can enjoy success next season and become serious contenders.

"The idea of the test was originally to have some fun, but my natural competitive instinct took over very quickly, and a return to Formula One with Jordan Grand Prix became a serious possibility. However, after consultations with my family and business advisers, I quickly came to realise that my schedule would not permit me to give sufficient time to the Jordan team and their sponsors," Mansell said.

Eddie Jordan, said: "It was an honour to have Nigel in our car and we were very, very impressed with his approach and attitude. I believe Nigel can still be a winner, but I appreciate the honesty of his decision. The door will always be open for him at Jordan and we will continue to explore ways for him to have an involvement with the team."

The saga generated extensive coverage for the Jordan team, especially in the UK, where Mansell remains one of the biggest names in sport. The test has lifted spirits within the team and with the sponsors after a difficult season.

Mansell's decision leaves Jordan looking for another driver to partner German Ralf Schumacher next year.

It could increase the chances of Martin Brundle retaining his drive for 1997 as the team seek someone of experience to partner the Formula One rookie.