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Do you remember… when Jordan launched their car in Red Square

05 Oct 2015

These days, the majority of teams are satisfied with introducing their new challengers in the pit lane of whatever circuit they happen to be testing at. But it wasn’t always so. Back in 2005, some ten years before Russia hosted its first Grand Prix and when elaborate launches were all the rage, Jordan chose to unveil their latest machine in the heart of Moscow…

From the picturesque Piazza San Marco in Venice to a plinth overlooking the Barcelona skyline; from the world famous Teatro Massimo opera house in Sicily to the grandiose Gateway of India in Mumbai, F1 cars have been launched in all manner of spectacular locations over the years.

But undoubtedly one of the most memorable unveilings took place in February 2005 when Jordan lifted the covers off their new design in Moscow’s historic Red Square.

The temperature may have been sub-zero, but from a publicity point of view, the choice of location was inspired. To the strains of a local military band, the bright yellow EJ15 was wheeled out over snow-dusted cobblestones, to be photographed in the midst of such iconic landmarks as the Kremlin, Lenin's Mausoleum and the ornately-domed cathedral of Saint Basil.

But there was more to the Silverstone-based team’s decision to launch in Russia than the world famous backdrop - they were here because of Alex Shnaider, the Russian-born Canadian businessman whose Midland Group had recently completed a takeover of the squad from colourful founder Eddie Jordan.  

“We want our F1 team to have a Russian flavour so it was very important to introduce ourselves appropriately to the media and businesses here in Moscow,” explained Jordan’s managing director Colin Kolles.

“We want to show them how thrilling Formula One is and I hope that it has been exciting for people to see a Formula One car and racing drivers here at the heart of the Russian capital.”

To get into the spirit of the occasion (or possibly just to shield them from the -10 degree chill), the team’s fleet of rookie drivers - Narain Karthikeyan, Tiago Monteiro and tester Robert Doornbos - donned ‘ushankas’ (traditional Russian fur caps) as they posed by their Toyota-powered steed.

"I think Russia, like my home country India, is a nation which would very much like to host a race in the future Grand Prix calendar,” said a prescient Karthikeyan through juddering teeth. “There are many similarities between us, although the climate is certainly not one of them!"

Monteiro was similarly effusive, despite the freezing conditions: "I'm really excited to visit Moscow," the Portuguese racer said. "This is my first time in Russia and I'm impressed with how striking the place is and how busy and welcoming the people are. It is great to be able to bring the car with us just days before we leave for the first race.”

After such an impressive launch - the photo opportunity being followed by a glitzy party - that first race was a major let down, with Karthikeyan and Monteiro traipsing home a disappointing 15th and 16th in Melbourne. Things didn’t get much better for Jordan over the remaining 18 races either, though they did pick up a fortuitous podium with Montiero in the infamous six-car Grand Prix at Indianapolis. 

But on a cold day in the Russian capital all of that was still to come.  

"We want to give our team a touch of Russian peculiarity," Kolles had said on that icy February morning.

In one fell swoop they’d done just that.