Eddie Jordan has come out in support of former charge Giancarlo Fisichella as the Italian fights to cling onto his sole remaining Formula 1 lifeline with Force India in 2008, whilst admitting the Renault refugee's ex-Jordan team-mate Ralf Schumacher has probably now raced his last in the top flight.

Fisichella and Schumacher competed alongside each other at Jordan in 1997, back when both were still only just setting out on their F1 careers, and between them drove the Irish squad to fifth spot in the constructors' world championship - at the time the best it had ever achieved. There were podium finishes for both along the way, with a particular highlight of the former's runner-up spot to Gerhard Berger at Hockenheim, though a potential victory did fall by the wayside when the two rookies clattered into each other in Argentina.

In a manner of speaking both recently returned home by testing for Force India - what was once Jordan Grand Prix - at Jerez. Whilst Jordan stressed the erstwhile Spyker outfit could do far worse than take a punt on Fisichella's experience next year, he acknowledged the grand prix career of Schumacher - who recently split from his manager Hans Mahr following a desperately disappointing 2007 campaign at Toyota that yielded a scant five points and best finish of sixth place in Hungary - was in all likelihood now over, after the German spoke out to say he would not be interested in racing for the renamed Silverstone-based outfit next year.

"Vijay [Mallya - Force India owner] wants to take Force India back to their Jordan heyday, which is brilliant news," the ebullient Irishman enthused in his latest F1 Racing column. "He now has most of the technical team that achieved Jordan's best results, and a budget of $100 million USD. While we may have got away with spending less, Vijay won't be shy about putting money into this - whatever the drivers cost, they can be paid for.

"The 1997 Jordan team of Fisichella and Schumacher were willing and able to test [for Force India], which showed their positive characters. The team needs a balance of youth and experience.

"Force India already have one young, hungry driver, so who else should they go for? This much I know - when you need points and the car brought home in a tight situation at the fighting end of a race, Ralf or Giancarlo could do it every day.

"[I'm] not sure if it [Ralf's sabbatical] will work [though] - there are too many young kids coming through, and the door might not be open when he returns. Ralf performed brilliantly for Jordan and Williams, but Toyota probably overpaid him and he had an underperforming car which probably sapped his motivation."

Amidst a barrage of unconfirmed rumours that Fisichella has already secured the second Force India drive alongside German Adrian Sutil for 2008, it has also been reported in Spanish sports daily newspaper Marca that the 34-year-old has successfully amassed EUR10 million in personal sponsorship in a bid to fight off the attentions of the man believed to be his principal rival for the seat, GP2 graduate Roldan Rodriguez.

 

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