Motor racing: Irvine insists on priority at Ferrari

THE SPECTRE of Michael Schumacher is ever more apparent and Eddie Irvine, conscious that the man is close to re-appearing in person, was at pains here yesterday to stress the merits of his own claims, over the Ferrari No 1, for official recognition as the team's championship contender.

Irvine takes a two-point lead over McLaren-Mercedes' Mika Hakkinen into Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. Schumacher, soon to return in Italy, in a fortnight, is 24 points adrift.

The Ulsterman couched his appeal diplomatically, but it amounted to a simple message: give me your support and discount Schumacher's prospects. Irvine pointed out he had been informed of reports in the Italian media, quoting the Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, as saying Schumacher would be required to support the Ulsterman's cause.

However, Irvine contends he has yet to be given first-hand confirmation of such a commitment and is anxious for the matter to be clarified before Schumacher, recovering from a broken leg, returns. Irvine said: "I've not been told anything by Ferrari and it's not for me to ask. But I assume I'm the one going for the championship. I am leading and Ferrari want to win the championship, so they should want to help me.

"At the start of the season Michael was their best chance for the championship but since his accident we've taken 30 points. Now I guess it's logical I've got the best chance. But it's not my decision. It's up to the team. I just go out and try to beat the McLarens anyway."

Behind this plea is an unease brought about by some of Irvine's more caustic comments and his negations with Stewart-Ford, or Jaguar, as the team is expected to be renamed.

Schumacher is unlikely to relish the role of supporting act and the team would be irked to see Irvine carry off the coveted world champion's No 1 sticker and slap it on the side of another car. Since Irvine presents the logical argument, he ought to accept that Hakkinen is the favourite for the championship after he and his team-mate, David Coulthard, were first and second in Hungary 12 days ago.

Irvine defiantly maintained: "We had a problem with the car in Budapest but you can't judge us on that. We're getting better and we have a chance here. People keep saying this is a really important race but they're all important. There are always 10 points for the win. I don't mind if I get zero points here as long as I'm ahead after the last race."

Hakkinen, like Irvine, is seeking his first win here, a circuit that has been Schumacher's domain, and the Finn is similarly bullish. He said: "It's not a problem that I've never won here. I'm here to get maximum points this time. The programme has not really gone to plan this year because I wanted to be leading the championship at this stage. But our testing has been great and I don't see why we shouldn't perform well in this race."

If this is to be Mika Salo's last race for Ferrari he can comfort himself in the knowledge he has a drive for the next two years. The Finn will replace Jean Alesi at Sauber. Jordan-Mugen confirmed yesterday that the Italian, Jarno Trulli, currently with Prost-Peugeot, will replace Damon Hill.

Trulli, who has a two-year contract, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for me. Jordan have shown they're now a truly top team."

Team owner Eddie Jordan, said: "In Jarno I see one of the most exciting young drivers I have come across and I am certain he will develop with Jordan into a winning driver."

n The Belgian government has threatened legal action against anyone displaying tobacco logos, in accordance with a ban in place since January. Maximum punishment is a fine of up to BFr20m (pounds 320,000) or a year in prison.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: PSHE Teacher required in Devon - Star...

SEN Teacher (Primary)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: SEN Primary Teacher required Devon

SEN PPA Cover Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Teacher Jobs in Devon Devon

BSL Level 2 or above - Behaviour Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are looking for Teaching ...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor