Jordan play down Schumacher signing

Motor racing
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The Independent Online
Jordan-Peugeot yesterday played down reports that Ralf Schumacher, the brother of Michael, the reigning world champion, would be joining them next year.

Ralf, 21, who currently heads the Formula 3,000 standings, was reported by the German daily newspaper Bild to be signing for the Silverstone-based team before the Portuguese Grand Prix a week Sunday. The Schumachers' manager, Willi Weber, was quoted as saying: "We will announce a deal at the race in Estoril next week."

But Jordan denied that Schumacher had been recruited for 1997 and said negotiations with several drivers were continuing. "It is just speculation," said the team's spokesperson, Louise Goodman. "We have spoken with Schumacher's management, but have also talked to a number of other people. No decisions have yet been reached about next year and the situation is still open."

If Schumacher does link up with Jordan, he could be partnered by his brother's arch-rival, Damon Hill, who is still seeking a drive after Williams announced that they would not be renewing his contract next year.

Jordan are one of the front-runners to sign the World Championship leader and the team manager, Eddie Jordan, last week admitted he was interested in securing the Englishman's services. Hill has also been linked with Benetton, McLaren and the new Stewart Grand Prix team.

Jordan's current drivers, Martin Brundle and the Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, are on one-year contracts and widely expected to be moving on at the end of this season.