Eddie Jordan has revealed that he was in negotiations with Ayrton Senna to cede a stake in his Jordan Grand Prix F1 team to the great Brazilian shortly before his untimely death in 1994.
Speaking in his Formula for Success podcast with David Coulthard, Jordan remembered witnessing Senna’s talent during the Brazilian’s formative years in the sport in Formula Ford in the early 1980s.
Unfortunately, circumstances prevented the then Formula 3 team owner from hiring the future F1 legend, a failure he lived to regret.
“In 1982 I had a guy called Jim Wright, who was my scout. I did things a different way,” Jordan recalled.
“I had Jim doing all the junior races to see who could I come up with for Formula 3, because I always felt that most of the drivers – and that’s why Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, and Jean Alesi came to me – they had very little money.
“But I was strong enough to be able to go out and find money to support the team, and then try and pick the best driver.
“So Jim Wright said to me ‘God Eddie, you need to see this guy called Da Silva [Senna]. He had finished third in the Formula Ford Festival so he was right up there. Then he was dealing with Dennis Rushen, who was Rushen Green, doing Formula Ford 2000.
“So I went to Snetterton to see him. I remember putting a mark, in my eye, on the esses at Snetterton. It’s a corner that most people can’t take absolutely flat, but this guy was coming through there flat every time, and he never missed this mark with his front left tyre as he turned into the esses.
“I thought this guy seems to be right on the money in terms of control, understanding the speed, accuracy, and repeatability. He was able to do this.
“I tried to sign him for the ’83 season and I couldn’t because he was a Marlboro driver. I hadn’t got enough credits to my name and Dick Bennett was sort of the guru at West Surrey Racing.
“He was sent there by Marlboro. I tried desperately to sign him. But Dick and I joined together because I got the Marlboro deal for Macau.
“He [Ayrton] changed his name after that race. He never drove Formula 3 again, and he changed his name to Senna. Some time after that, he was the one who put [Rubens] Barrichello onto me, we always remained very good friends.”
In 1993, during Senna’s final year with McLaren, the Brazilian was approached by Jordan who laid out a plan to bring the former to his F1 outfit, not only as a driver but also as a team owner.
“He was disillusioned at McLaren. It was before he went to Williams, he just wasn’t happy,” Jordan explained.
“Believe this or not, but I offered him 50%, free of charge, to come and drive for Jordan, but he would have to stay on as an owner, because I believed, with Senna in the team, the actual value of the team would more than double.
“So, in other words, the half that I was losing – I thought this would be such a cool stroke.
“First, I get a guy like Senna in my car, get the team, the recognition of the team, the sponsorship income would multiply by an amazing amount.”
Sadly, Senna’s tragic death at Imola in 1994 put an end to Jordan’s dream of teaming up with the great Brazilian.
“I always liked Ayrton and it should have happened but, suddenly, he died,” the Irishman lamented.
“Now I’m not saying that he would have done it. But we were very far into the negotiations about what he wanted to do.
“He wanted to have a team and I was giving him that opportunity.”
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