Eddie Irvine

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Eddie Irvine
Eddie Irvine.jpg
Nationality Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British
Formula One World Championship career
Active years19932002
TeamsJordan, Ferrari, Jaguar
Races148 (147 starts)
Championships0
Wins4
Podiums26
Career points191
Pole positions0
Fastest laps1
First race1993 Japanese Grand Prix
First win1999 Australian Grand Prix
Last win1999 Malaysian Grand Prix
Last race2002 Japanese Grand Prix
24 Hours of Le Mans career
Participating years1992 - 1994
TeamsTOM'S/SARD, SARD Toyota
Best finish2nd (1994)
Class wins1 (1994)

Edmund "Eddie" Irvine, Jr. (born 10 November 1965, Newtownards, County Down[1]) is a former racing driver from Northern Ireland. He grew up in Conlig, County Down, and was influenced by his parents, who were also involved in motor racing. His father, Edmund Sr., and his sister, Sonia (now a physiotherapist), worked with him during his career.[2]

His professional racing career began in 1983 and he progressed to Formula Three racing in 1988, before moving on to Formula 3000 in 1989. He got his break in the top of the Formula racing series after he started racing for Jordan in the Formula 3000 series in 1990, and was subsequently picked up by the Jordan Formula One team in 1993. His reputation steadily increased in Formula One, eventually leading Ferrari to sign him to partner Michael Schumacher in 1996.

1999 was his most successful season; Irvine won four races, taking the Drivers' Championship to the last race in which he finished third. In the overall Championship he finished as runner-up to McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen. He left Ferrari the following year for the new Jaguar Racing team and was the only driver to get Jaguar to the podium in their short F1 history; he achieved this feat twice.

As of 2003, Irvine had houses in Milan, Miami, and Dalkey, Dublin Bay.[3]

Before F1 (1983–1993)

Eddie Irvine at the 1989 Macau Grand Prix. His helmet design was based on that of Ayrton Senna.

Eddie Irvine's racing career began in Formula Ford, and from 1983 through 1986 he spent the championships in middle-field places, finishing on the podium on some occasions. His big break came in 1987 when he signed for the works Van Diemen team and won both RAC and Esso FF1600 championships with a respectable 19 wins out of 36 races, including the prestigious Formula Ford Festival.

His performances in Formula Ford led to a signing in the front running WSR Formula Three team. During the season, it was clear that the Alfa Romeo Engine in Irvine's car did not have a chance of competing with the Toyota and VW powered cars. He finished the year fifth in the standings, without a single win, but with 8 podium positions.

After a good showing in the 1988 Macau Grand Prix, where he put his WSR Ralt car on the pole and won the first leg, Eddie signed for the Pacific team for the 1989 F3000 Championship. In a complicated season for a rookie team, Irvine finished the final standings in ninth place, ahead of his highly rated team mate JJ Lehto, who was already in F1 by mid-season. At the end of the year, Irvine returned to the Macau Grand Prix with his former team (WSR) in one of its Ralt F3 Cars.

For 1990 Irvine signed with Eddie Jordan for a second attempt at the F3000 Championship, this time winning the German round, and finishing the year third in the standings ahead of his team mates, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Emanuele Naspetti. Again at the end of the season, Irvine stepped back to Formula Three to participate in the 1990 Macau and Fuji rounds, showing strong performance against F3 drivers and finishing on the podium in both events.

With no F1 in sight, Irvine headed for Japan, to compete in the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship. He finished seventh in the standings in 1991, eighth in 1992, and runner-up in 1993, just as he debuted with the Jordan F1 team at that year's Japanese Grand Prix.

F1 career

Jordan (1993–1995)

In the early stages of his F1 career, Irvine was known as a fierce competitor. Even when he had a weaker car with which he only qualified for the rear of the grid, he had a tendency to "try to win a race at the start", often causing himself and others to exit a race in an untimely and untidy fashion. He was also noted for his personality, perhaps best described as anti-authoritarian. He finished 6th and secured a point on his debut Formula One race with Jordan in 1993 at Suzuka.

This race set the theme of controversy for Irvine that would follow him for the next couple of years. Seeing Ayrton Senna coming up behind him in his rear-view mirror, Irvine allowed him to pass. However, when Senna seemingly did not bother to lap Damon Hill who Irvine was racing against at the time, he felt he was being held up and, amazingly for a rookie against an all-time great, unlapped himself and immediately overtook Hill. [4] Incensed, Senna walked into the Jordan motorhome after the race finished and punched Irvine in the face.[5] Irvine spoke about this when asked about his most memorable moment:

I assume you’re talking about racing so I’ll keep it clean then! I think going around the outside of three guys at the first corner and up to fifth in my first grand prix for Jordan. I did have a chuckle when I unlapped Ayrton Senna in that race and was laughing my head off in the car.

—2007 interview.[6]

Irvine continued with Jordan until 1995, where he was well matched with his younger, though more experienced team-mate, Rubens Barrichello. His lack of reliability as well as a tendency to get involved in accidents in 1994 meant that the final championship standings did not mirror his speed. Irvine recorded his first podium finish in F1 with a third place (behind Barrichello in 2nd) at the memorable 1995 Canadian Grand Prix.

Irvine's affinity for apparently reckless driving began to dissipate when he moved to the Ferrari team. F1 sports commentators even changed his nickname from "Irv the swerve" to "Steady Eddie" and "Fast Eddie". [7]

As the Formula One world became more technical and the driver personalities less distinctive, his non-conformist approach was generally appreciated.

Ferrari (1996–1999)

In 1996, the Ferrari team picked him to partner Michael Schumacher. Between 1996 and 1997, Irvine played a clear second driver in the team to Schumacher. Both years the comparison with Schumacher was inevitable and it showed; in 1996 Schumacher had 59 points and 3 wins, against Irvine's 11 points and no wins. In 1997, not counting Schumacher's disqualification from the world championship, the German had 78 points and 5 wins, against Irvine's 24 points and, again, no wins.

Irvine driving for Ferrari at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix, during his most successful season in F1.

1999 saw Irvine's career reach a peak as, through a combination of circumstance and the culmination of his much improved and matured style and performance during his years at Ferrari, he found himself battling for the world championship following Michael Schumacher's accident at that year's British Grand Prix.

Irvine won the season's opening grand prix in Australia, in a race with significant attrition. With consistent points finishes and subsequent good form he was relatively well placed to take up the fight as the team's lead driver alongside Schumacher's replacement, Mika Salo. A controversial victory handed to him by Salo, out of sight of TV cameras, in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim followed, although Irvine looked set to pass Salo with or without his help. Following the race, Irvine handed his victory trophy over to Salo as a gesture to show his gratitude.

A further win in Austria increased Irvine's title hopes. However, the normally flawless Ferrari pitcrew performed badly during his pitstops in two races, losing valuable points that left Irvine's championship lead smaller than it could have been. The returning Schumacher aided him in Malaysia, letting his team-mate past and then holding up title challenger, McLaren's Mika Häkkinen. Both Ferraris were disqualified hours after the race as a result of a minor aerodynamic irregularity concerning the cars' bargeboards, seemingly handing the title to Häkkinen, and the constructors' championship to the British team. However, the decision was later overturned and both cars reinstated in the race results, meaning that Irvine headed into the final round leading the 1999 Formula One World Drivers' Championship.

In the title showdown at Suzuka, a finish in front of Mika Häkkinen would guarantee Irvine the title. In the event, his third place finish behind Häkkinen and Schumacher handed the championship to the Finn. It is interesting to note, however, that under the current points system (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), Irvine would have won the championship. However, the 1999 season used a 10-6-4-3-2-1 scheme.

Jaguar (2000–2002)

Notwithstanding his success in 1999, Irvine had become increasingly frustrated with a Ferrari team that had a team orders policy, meaning that he had to consistently take a backseat. He moved to Jaguar in 2000 to help establish the new team, where he finally became the lead driver.

The team learned much from Irvine's experience with Ferrari, but ultimately the Jaguar package was unreliable and uncompetitive. Driving a car much slower than most others, and dogged by the reliability problems, he still managed to get podium results at Monaco and Monza.

Friction in the Jaguar camp and his vocal frustration at the lack of positive development of the car resulted in his contract not being renewed. He was considered for a return to Jordan for the 2003 season but, due to that team's financial problems, he was left without a drive. He announced his retirement from Formula One racing that year.

Career after F1

Irvine is seen by many as a playboy in the mould of James Hunt, in contrast to the sport's modern stars, who are seen as staid and less flamboyant. Irvine is also remembered for his tendency to speak his mind, often to the irritation of some.

Eddie played himself in the 2004 comedy The Prince and Me, which starred Julia Stiles.

Following the collapse of talks with Minardi in 2005, Irvine is now considering setting up his own Formula One team from scratch.

He was a millionaire through property investment before reaching Formula One. Outside of F1, Irvine is said to have built up a multi-million pound property portfolio, owning around forty properties throughout the world. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, published in April 2006, Irvine was the fifth richest person of Northern Ireland at that time, having increased his personal fortune to approximately £160 million.

He is also the owner of Eddie Irvine Sports, a snooker, pool, kart racing, paintballing, and football facility in Bangor, close to his native Conlig.

He is now executive producer of a film being produced about Paddy Mayne.[8]

In May 2006, it was announced that Irvine would be one of the celebrities taking part in ITV's Soccer Aid. In aid of UNICEF, this television show featured an England vs the rest of the world football match, with teams made up of a mix of celebrities and ex-professionals. Unfortunately, he had to pull out because of a leg injury.

In late 2006 he launched a new television programme on the Sky One channel, with two teams of celebrity racing drivers competing against each other. David Coulthard was captain and coach of the girls team, and Irvine of the boys. Ultimately, despite some impressive performances by both teams, Irvine's team won by some margin. Also in 2006 Irvine had a brief fling with actress and model Pamela Anderson, who broke off the romance claiming that "Eddie was just too sweet for me."[9]

In 2002, Irvine successfully sued TalkSport Radio for "passing off" his image in a print advertisement, as if he had personally endorsed the station.[10]

Nationality

By virtue of being born in Northern Ireland, a constituent country of the United Kingdom, Irvine was a British citizen throughout his career. He also held a racing license issued by the National Sporting Authority of the Republic of Ireland.[11] (Drivers are not compelled to obtain their license from their home country.) The FIA's International Sporting Regulations state that drivers competing in FIA World Championships shall compete under the nationality of their passport, rather than that of the National Sporting Authority that issued their racing license, as is the case in other racing series.[12]

This situation created some confusion as to Irvine's nationality when he appeared at podium ceremonies in the Formula One World Championship. At his first podium, a third place for Jordan at the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, the British Union Jack was flown. However, at his third podium, a second place for Ferrari at the 1997 Argentine Grand Prix, an Irish Tricolour was mistakenly flown by the race organisers.[13] This led to his family receiving threatening phone calls. Irvine then requested that at subsequent races, a politically neutral shamrock flag be flown, and the non-sectarian Londonderry Air be played to mark a victory.[11] An FIA spokesman said:

As far as we understand, Irvine has a British passport so the Union Jack should be raised. ... I understand he has a special flag, but our regulations do not allow this.

—FIA spokesman Francesco Longanesi.[13]

Irvine has self-identified as being Irish:

But at the end of the day, I’m Irish. I mean, I’ve got a British passport, but if you’re from Ireland, north or south, you’re Irish. And ‘British’ is. . . such a nondescript thing, isn’t it?

—1995 interview.[14]

Racing record

Career summary

Season Series Team Name Races Poles Wins Points Final Placing
1983 Misc Formula Ford races ? 20 ? ? ? ?
1984 Misc Formula Ford races ? 22 2 2 ? ?
1985 Esso Formula Ford 1600 ? 20 3 0 44 10th
1986 Misc Formula Ford races ? 17 0 0 ? ?
1987 Esso Formula Ford 1600 Van Diemen 14 5 6 165 1st
RAC Formula Ford 1600 Van Diemen 12 10 8 160 1st
Formula Ford Festival Van Diemen 1 1 1 N/A 1st
BBC Formula Ford 2000 Van Diemen 4 2 2 24 2nd
1988 British F3 championship WSR 18 1 0 53 5th
Cellnet Formula Three Race WSR 1 0 0 N/A R
Macau Grand Prix WSR 1 1 0 N/A R
1989 International Formula 3000 Pacific 10 0 0 11 9th
Macau Grand Prix WSR 1 0 0 N/A R
1990 International Formula 3000 Jordan 11 0 1 27 3rd
Macau Grand Prix WSR 1 0 0 N/A 3rd
F3 Fuji Cup WSR 1 0 0 N/A 3rd
1991 Japanese Formula 3000 Cerumo 11 0 1 14 7th
1992 Japanese Formula 3000 Cerumo 11 2 1 17 8th
24 hours Le Mans TOM'S/SARD 1 0 0 N/A 9th
1993 Japanese Formula 3000 Cerumo 10 4 1 32 2nd
24 hours Le Mans SARD Toyota 1 0 0 N/A 4th
Formula One Jordan 2 0 0 1 20th
1994 Formula One Jordan 13 0 0 6 16th
24 hours Le Mans SARD Toyota 1 0 0 N/A 2nd
1995 Formula One Jordan 17 0 0 10 12th
1996 Formula One Ferrari 16 0 0 11 10th
1997 Formula One Ferrari 17 0 0 24 7th
1998 Formula One Ferrari 16 0 0 47 4th
1999 Formula One Ferrari 16 0 4 74 2nd
2000 Formula One Jaguar 17 0 0 4 13th
2001 Formula One Jaguar 17 0 0 6 12th
2002 Formula One Jaguar 17 0 0 8 9th

Complete Formula One Grand Prix results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1993 Sasol Jordan Jordan 193 Hart RSA
BRA
EUR
SMR
ESP
MON
CAN
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
POR
JPN
6
AUS
Ret
20th 1
1994 Sasol Jordan Jordan 194 Hart BRA
Ret
PAC
SMR
MON
ESP
6
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
13
ITA
Ret
POR
7
EUR
4
JPN
5
AUS
Ret
16th 6
1995 Total Jordan Peugeot Jordan 195 Peugeot BRA
Ret
ARG
Ret
SMR
8
ESP
5
MON
Ret
CAN
3
FRA
9
GBR
Ret
GER
9
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
10
EUR
6
PAC
11
JPN
4
AUS
Ret
12th 10
1996 Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari F310 Ferrari AUS
3
BRA
7
ARG
5
EUR
Ret
SMR
4
MON
7
ESP
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
POR
5
JPN
Ret
10th 11
1997 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Ferrari F310B Ferrari AUS
Ret
BRA
16
ARG
2
SMR
3
MON
3
ESP
12
CAN
Ret
FRA
3
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
9
BEL
10
ITA
8
AUT
Ret
LUX
Ret
JPN
3
EUR
5
7th 24
1998 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Ferrari F300 Ferrari AUS
4
BRA
8
ARG
3
SMR
3
ESP
Ret
MON
3
CAN
3
FRA
2
GBR
3
AUT
4
GER
8
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
2
LUX
4
JPN
2
4th 47
1999 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Ferrari F399 Ferrari AUS
1
BRA
5
SMR
Ret
MON
2
ESP
4
CAN
3
FRA
6
GBR
2
AUT
1
GER
1
HUN
3
BEL
4
ITA
6
EUR
7
MAL
1
JPN
3
2nd 74
2000 Jaguar Racing Jaguar R1 Cosworth AUS
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
7
GBR
13
ESP
11
EUR
Ret
MON
4
CAN
13
FRA
13
AUT
PO
GER
8
HUN
8
BEL
10
ITA
Ret
USA
7
JPN
8
MAL
6
13th 4
2001 Jaguar Racing Jaguar R2 Cosworth AUS
11
MAL
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
AUT
7
MON
3
CAN
Ret
EUR
7
FRA
Ret
GBR
9
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
Ret
ITA
Ret
USA
5
JPN
Ret
12th 6
2002 Jaguar Racing Jaguar R3 Cosworth AUS
4
MAL
Ret
BRA
7
SMR
Ret
ESP
Ret
AUT
Ret
MON
9
CAN
Ret
EUR
Ret
GBR
Ret
FRA
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
6
ITA
3
USA
10
JPN
9
9th 8
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jason Elliot
British Formula Ford Champion
1987
Succeeded by
Derek Higgins
Preceded by
Roland Ratzenberger
Formula Ford Festival Winner
1987
Succeeded by
Vincenzo Sospiri
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
David Coulthard
Hawthorn Memorial Trophy
1999
Succeeded by
David Coulthard
Preceded by
Dario Franchitti
Autosport
British Competition Driver of the Year

1999
Succeeded by
David Coulthard

References

  1. Biography f1complete.com. Retrieved on 17-05-08.
  2. ITV Sport
  3. BBC
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL79Io4htbw
  5. Suzuka, 1993
  6. Virgin Media
  7. http://www.irvtheswerve.net/about.html
  8. "Who Blair Wins" By: Kelleher, Lynne The Sunday Mirror June 18, 2006 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20060618/ai_n16490721
  9. Pamela Anderson: Eddie Irvine Was Too Sweet
  10. Irvine v Talksport. EWHC 367 (Ch).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Villeneuve backs return to 'real racetracks' The Independent. Published on 25-04-08. Retrieved on 21-03-08.
  12. FIA international sporting regulations para 112
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ramsey, Chris. Eddie's flag of convenience! The Sun (London, England) April 26, 1997
  14. The Ego and the Grid Retrieved on 20-02-07.