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Sponsorship blow for Jordan F1 as DHL pulls out

LONDON - The downturn in Formula 1's fortunes continues to deepen as Jordan F1, the team run by Irish entrepreneur Eddie Jordan, revealed that it has lost its title sponsor DHL and associated sponsorship from DHL parent Deutsche Post.

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The withdrawal of DHL and Deutsche Post World Net, which has sponsored Jordan since 2000, will leave the mid-field team with a £16m budget shortfall, according to reports.

Speaking about its exit from F1 and Jordan, Deutsche Post World Net's head of communications Gert Schukies said: "Our communications objectives have been completely fulfilled. The involvement in racing has made our brand known internationally and also very familiar to customers all over Europe and worldwide. That is a good moment to go."

The announcement was not a surprise one for the Jordan team, which had known about the move for some time.

Eddie Jordan, chief executive of Jordan, said: "We have known about Deutsche Post World Net's decision on a strictly confidential basis for some time and therefore, as you would expect, we are in negotiations with new sponsors."

He added: "We have a strong track record commercially and, although this past season was not among our most competitive, the fact that we finished in the top six for a ninth consecutive season shows that even in difficult times we have acquitted ourselves well."

The news comes on the back of other sponsor losses by more successful teams. German beer brand Veltins ended its sponsorship of the BMW.WilliamsF1 team last week and questions remain as to whether T-Mobile will continue to support the McLaren Mercedes team in 2003.

Deutsche Post's decision to pull out of Jordan has been expected ever since Jordan sacked German driver Heinz Harald Frentzen towards the end of the 2001 season, as it would prefer a German driver in the team. Jordan's other title sponsor, Benson & Hedges, is expected to make up some of the shortfall, but is understood to prefer a British driver to partner the highly-rated Italian Giancarlo Fisichella next season.

At the moment, Jordan is expected to run next year with Fisichella and Japanese driver Takuma Sato. However, that is dependent on Sato bringing in now much-needed sponsorship money from Japan. Waiting in the wings, however, is Eddie Irvine, the 37-year-old driver who was sacked by Jaguar two weeks ago. It is understood that Benson & Hedges would be prepared to increase its sponsorship if a British driver, especially one of racewinner Irvine's calibre, were to join the team.

A new sponsorship line-up is expected to be announced with the unveiling of the 2003 Jordan challenger in mid-January.

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