Irvine strikes again

Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen were Eddie Irvine’s latest victim this week. "I feel Benetton should have done everything possible to hang on to Fisichella". Eddie Irvine in his usual outspoken way, has criticised Jenson Button and claimed...

Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen were Eddie Irvine’s latest victim this week. "I feel Benetton should have done everything possible to hang on to Fisichella". Eddie Irvine in his usual outspoken way, has criticised Jenson Button and claimed that Kimi Raikkonen is being over-rated.

The Jaguar driver, writing in the Sun newspaper, stated that he felt that Flavio Briatore had made a mistake in letting go of Giancarlo Fisichella, and that he thought that a combination of Fisichella and Jarno Trulli would have made a strong team.

After a stunning debut year in F1 last year for Williams, Button struggled this year whilst Renault spent the season in development in readiness for 2002. Button will be staying on next year as part of a loan agreement from Williams, while Giancarlo Fisichella, who consistently outgunned Button, will be transferring to Jordan and Jarno Trulli will be taking the vacant seat. If he had been in Briatore's shoes he would have said: "Jenson, you are the weakest link. Goodbye."

"I know Jenson had a great debut season with Williams but he has been a big disappointment this time around for whatever reasons. He has only out-qualified Giancarlo a couple of times and that was because the Italian had traffic or mechanical problems," said the Jaguar driver.

Fisichella is generally highly regarded and for several years at Benetton has been able to score some strong results without the best machinery. However, apparently Briatore was not happy with his qualifying record. Jarno Trulli on the other hand has a strong qualifying track record, but this year has often not managed to convert that into points. As it is the points that matter there could be some justification to Irvine's criticism.

Trulli scored nine points this season, only one more than his fellow Italian. Most would argue that for the majority of the season Trulli has had the superior car. However the combination of Trulli and Fisichella, given the existing two year Benetton contract with Button may not have been a financially viable option for Briatore. With an unlimited budget the choices are much wider.

Irvine also turned his attention to Kimi Raikkonen, who has signed with McLaren for next year. "Everyone has been going crazy about how good the young Finn is but I have never been completely sold on all the hype. You only have to look at his last few races and he has certainly not produced anything special. If you take the season as a whole, his Sauber team-mate Nick Heidfeld has looked a far better prospect. It makes you wonder whether McLaren boss Ron Dennis has made the right choice."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Flavio Briatore
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan