Eddie Irvine may well have missed out on points in Hungary, but not by much - and that counts to the Ulsterman. 'It's probably one of the best races I've ever driven without reward,' he quipped. 'I had a lot of fun out there.' From tenth...
Eddie Irvine may well have missed out on points in Hungary, but not by much - and that counts to the Ulsterman. 'It's probably one of the best races I've ever driven without reward,' he quipped. 'I had a lot of fun out there.'
From tenth position of the grid Irvine took ninth on the first lap and was up to seventh by lap 7, the only man really on the move in a static race for many drivers. This was achieved despite a fuel pressure problem that ultimately brought Irvine in for an early pit stop, as Technical Director Gary Anderson explained: 'Eddie's problem meant we had to bring him in earlier than scheduled and then he lost speed because we had to run with more fuel than he needed to try and remedy things.'
Jarno Trulli slipped past Irvine during his second scheduled pit stop as the young Pescaran had opted for a single stop strategy with the Jordan - despite the soaring temperatures taking a toll on Bridgestone's soft compound tyres. The bold move paid off for him however - albeit with a little unwitting assistance as Marc Gene placed his Minardi squarely between Irvine's and some well-earned points as the Jaguar tried to lap him.
'That Minardi got in the way at a crucial time,' Eddie reflected. 'I was dicing for seventh place and he cost me about 20 seconds over four laps because his team told him he was racing me, which is ridiculous.'
Despite these setbacks, Irvine won his race-long battle with Jenson Button when the youngster's BMW engine faltered, allowing the Jaguar to pounce in the closing stages - much to Button's disappointment:
'We had an opportunity to get some points but after about thirty laps I had a throttle problem that cost me about 20kph on the straight. I was very aware that Eddie was bearing down on me lap by lap but there was nothing I could do. It's frustrating but what can you do?'
For Irvine however the day ended well enough for him to feel even more confident about the future for Jaguar Racing: I feel that we're getting there. If we package up the whole weekend we'll see but we haven't done that yet, it's as simple as that. We've yet to do have a good qualifying, good start, good stops, good race the whole way through. And that's why we don't have any points. Get it all together and there's no question we can challenge for points.'
The Hungarian Grand Prix is always tough, and starting from 17th on the grid Johnny Herbert was always going to find it difficult to get a good result. "It was always going to be a struggle for Johnny from where he started," said technical director Gary Anderson, "but eventually his race ended with a gearbox problem."
After making a strong start, Johnny's Jaguar R1 soon developed the gear selection problems that would end his race, but not before he had spun twice while defending his position at the first corner. "Yet again I had gearshift problems which developed around lap eight and continued until the end," he said. "The shifting wasn't very nice, and it got more and more inconsistent. When I spun with Jacques [Villeneuve] and Jos [Verstappen] - it wasn't in phase, and then it would sort of throw it into gear.
"But when it goes into gear it makes it go slower than the wheels are going, so it locks, like a brake. In the end it was stuck in a gear, and I thought if I carry on like that around the track I'd get in the way of everybody, so I just pulled off. Unfortunately it's another non-finish, which isn't very enjoyable."