Eddie Irvine has confirmed that discussions in August about a move from Jaguar to Jordan were serious, but that he turned down the Â£6.6 ($9.5m) million windfall to join Jordan because he wants to be a success with Jaguar. "It would have been best...
Eddie Irvine has confirmed that discussions in August about a move from Jaguar to Jordan were serious, but that he turned down the £6.6 ($9.5m) million windfall to join Jordan because he wants to be a success with Jaguar. "It would have been best for me financially if I had gone to Jordan. I would have earned an extra $9.5m. Jordan would have paid me and I would have pocketed the money from Jaguar as well. But I didn't do it because Jaguar is what I want to happen." Former Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal tried to off-load Irvine to Jordan earlier this season after the Irish team axed Heinz-Harald Frentzen. But the Ulsterman refused to walk away and the affair ultimately cost Rahal his job.
Irvine, 36 next month, says the challenge of turning Jaguar into winners means more to him than money at this stage of his career. Rumours surfaced back in August that Bobby Rahal had offered the Ulsterman to Jordan as a replacement for Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Jaguar boss dismissed the issue as a joke. "I was just joking with Eddie Jordan, as old friends do. We were sympathising with him over his breach with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. It was certainly not intended to be serious." The issue is alleged to have been a factor in the departure of Bobby Rahal as team boss, though his exit was by mutual agreement. When the rumours of the Jordan offer surfaced it was thought that Niki Lauda was not happy. At the time he said "I don't want to talk about it now but we will be looking into it next week." Only days later Rahal's departure was announced.
On his side, Eddie Irvine claimed that money isn't everything. "I've got boats and planes and houses all over the place. I've done that. Now my ambition is to take Jaguar up the grid and make them a success. If I can do that it will be very satisfying. It would be even better to win with Jaguar. But stuff like that doesn't happen overnight." But the question remains whether the discussions with Jordan ended because Irvine didn't want to move or as a result of Lauda putting an end to them.
Lauda and Irvine are thought to have a strong relationship, and both are equally forthright in expressing their opinions. "A general doesn't say to his troops: 'Excuse me guys, could you go over the top and shoot those guys over there?' I don't like beating around the bush," said Irvine. "When the engineers get to know my style they appreciate it. If Niki says I'm abrasive then he is as well, because he is the same as me. That's why I like him. He makes fast decisions. Things get done. Bam!"
Irvine also made it clear that he would like to end his driving career with the leaping cat. "We've moved up a couple of places in the championship this year and next year we should be aiming to beat Sauber, Jordan and Benetton. That should be a relatively easy step if we can get regularly in the points. After that, getting into the top three is a four-year project. I've only got one more year of my contract to run here and I'd like to stay longer to try and achieve that."