Many drivers are approaching the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne with a sense of excitement, but Eddie Irvine is not quite so enthusiastic. Jaguar had a turbulent winter with problems on the new R3, followed by the departure of...
Many drivers are approaching the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne with a sense of excitement, but Eddie Irvine is not quite so enthusiastic. Jaguar had a turbulent winter with problems on the new R3, followed by the departure of technical director Steve Nichols. There followed a hasty re-think of the car's aerodynamics but although the concerns were laid to rest, Irvine thinks it's going to be difficult despite the ironing out of glitches.
"It's going to make it very tough. There's a bit of trepidation," he said. "I don't think we can really iron out a lot. We tried as much as we could before we got here. We were working back at the factory to do stuff and how long it takes to sort the other problems out, I don't know." He also commented that the earlier problems made it impossible to predict how good Jaguar's performance would be this season: "It's impossible to say because the car has given us so many problems. We've really got to do a lot of things again, so it depends how successful that is before we can start to make a judgment."
Despite concerns about his race car for this weekend, Melbourne holds fond memories for the Irishman as it was the scene of his first victory, with Ferrari in 1999.
"It's a really great event, it's the best organised Grand Prix of the year, obviously 1999 was fantastic for me," he said. "We haven't had a really great race since then and we're probably not going to have another great race this year."
Irvine finished second in the Driver's Championship in '99 but his fortunes have taken something of a downturn since: with Jaguar he finished 13th in 2000 and 12th in 2001. This year his contract with Jaguar is up and despite recently being adamant he will not be retiring, Irvine is only looking to the immediate future at the moment. "You're always looking at it year-to-year, you're always judged on your last race." He remarked.