The Jordan team has decided to abandon its pursuit of Vodafone through the courts, after it became clear that it had no chance of proving that the telecoms giant had reneged on a potential sponsorship deal.

Team boss Eddie Jordan was attempting to claim ?150m for what the team reckoned was a U-turn by the company following a verbal agreement of a deal. Vodafone subsequently signed up to sponsor world champions Ferrari, while Jordan has slipped towards the back of the grid, hampered by a lack of finance as other sponsors withdrew their support in financially-restrictive times.

Jordan alleged that Vodafone branding director David Haines had agreed to sponsor the Silverstone team during a telephone conversation in which he apparently uttered the words 'you've got the deal' - but the telecoms company insisted that no deal was ever finalised and that, while it was in discussion with four other teams about possible deals, it had received letters from Jordan which acknowledged that no binding contract existed.

Jordan's decision to abandon the case - by serving a 'notice of discontinuance' - comes just two days before the presiding judge, Mr Justice Langley, was due to make his findings public - something the team is now trying desperately to avoid. Justice Langley, however, believes that his ruling on the case should be made public, even if it damages Jordan's image. He has rejected an application from Jordan to keep the outcome confidential, claiming that it was 'designed to create a serious injustice' and that 'Vodafone, the public and the media had a legitimate interest in being informed of the outcome'.

"If [Vodafone] are vindicated, it is unjust that they are not able to have that publicly established," the judge told Sky News.

Although Jordan has apparently agreed to pay costs to Vodafone at a higher than usual 'indemnity rate', the team has until Monday afternoon to find an alternative judge through which to pursue its appeal.

"Regretfully, it is clear that we are not going to win and, for the good of Formula One and the team, it is my decision to withdraw," team boss Jordan told Reuters,
"We'll take the judge's ruling on the chin and put this behind us. I must now channel all my energy into getting Jordan Grand Prix back on track for the rest of this year and for many years to come."

Paddock rumour had suggested that Ferrari boss Jean Todt was vetoing any 'fighting fund' payment to Jordan while the case was in progress, but the team's business affairs director, Ian Phillips, insisted that, despite the impending judgement, Jordan was in no danger of closure.

"We have dropped the case, but the team is not in jeopardy," he told Sky, "We will be here next week - and next year."