The 2000 season hasn't been kind to Eddie Irvine and Jaguar, but it's ending on a good note. Having qualified seventh in Japan, where he had his famous 'home advantage', Eddie showed that progress continues to be made by taking the same position...
The 2000 season hasn't been kind to Eddie Irvine and Jaguar, but it's ending on a good note. Having qualified seventh in Japan, where he had his famous 'home advantage', Eddie showed that progress continues to be made by taking the same position at Malaysia. It didn't quite match the sixth he earned in Brazil and France, but it was a welcome result nevertheless.
It could have been even better. Just 0.043s separated him from Jacques Villeneuve and sixth place, and another 0.009s from Alex Wurz and fifth, which would have been Jaguar's best result of the year. But in the light of a troubled session, Eddie was not too upset.
"I can't complain," he said. "I think I probably did as good a lap as I could. Everyone could have probably gone a tenth quicker to be honest. In a way I'm disappointed, because the car changed so much from the morning to the afternoon. I lost the first run and the second run - on the first run the car was difficult, it was so 'on the nose,' and on the second run I made a couple of mistakes on the lap. So I had to make the third run count. It was a very good lap, until the the last corner where I lost a tenth on being a bit too careful."
Benetton along with BAR and Jordan is embroiled in a battle for fourth place in the constructors' championship. Eddie is right in the middle of that group on the grid, but does not have the same targets. "I'll just try to take as many points as I can take. I've got no loyalties to any of them."
Of course, rain could fall on Sunday. The Jaguar hasn't enjoyed precipitation much this year, but this could be different. "It would be nice if it did rain, because the heat here is wild, isn't it? Next year in March there's going to be trouble. I've been here at that time of year before, and the heat is just unbelievable. Even if the weather stays as it is, the cockpit is going to be a warm place to be tomorrow..."
Gary Anderson, the team's technical boss: "Oh, for a hundredth of a second or two! It was quite a pressure session, really. I thought Eddie drove very well. He responded when it was needed to get the best out of our car. To be so tantalisingly close to fifth spot, which is the coveted prize if your car's not red or silver, was a great effort."