Edmund "Eddie" Irvine, Jr.
(born 10 November 1965, Newtownards, County Down) 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.
His professional racing career began in 1983 and he progressed to
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
team in 1993. His reputation
steadily increased in Formula One, eventually leading Ferrari
to sign him to partner Michael Schumacher
1999 was his most successful season; Irvine won four races, taking
the Drivers' Championship to the last race in which he finished
the overall Championship he finished as runner-up to McLaren driver
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.
Before F1 (1983–1993)
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
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
, where he put his WSR Ralt
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
, 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
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
, just as he
debuted with the Jordan F1 team
that year's Japanese Grand Prix.
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
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. Incensed,
Senna walked into the Jordan motorhome after the race finished and
punched Irvine in the face. Irvine spoke about this when asked
about his most memorable moment:
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".
As the Formula One world became more technical and the driver
personalities less distinctive, his non-conformist approach was
In 1996, the Ferrari
him to partner Michael
. 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.
In 1998, Irvine's fitness level was in question as he had suffered
from back pain. His seat was adjusted to help combat this problem.
Possibly stemming from this, a journalist suggested he was unfit.
In stark contrast with the journalist's allegation however, three
days prior to the publication of the article, Irvine had recorded
one of the highest levels of fitness of an F1 driver.
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
which saw the German break his leg.
Irvine won the season's opening grand prix in Australia
, in a race with
significant attrition. With consistent points finishes, subsequent
good form, and a rather abnormal series of glaring mistakes by
rivals McLaren and reigning
World Champion Mika Häkkinen, he
was relatively well placed to take up the fight as the team's lead
driver alongside Schumacher's replacement, Mika Salo.
A further two victories in the
and German Grand Prix
Irvine's title hopes. The former featured an exciting battle down
to the finish with McLaren driver
David Coulthard (who did himself no
favours after spinning Häkkinen out in the first lap).
latter victory however was rather controversial as it was handed to
him by teammate Salo out of sight of TV cameras, although Irvine
looked set to pass Salo with or without his help. Salo had
outqualified the Irishman, and was ahead of him throughout the
race; he inherited the lead after Häkkinen had a botched pitsop and
subsequently went out later with a spectacular left rear tire
puncture and crash. Following the race, Irvine handed his victory
trophy over to 2nd place Salo as a gesture to show his
Irvine added two more high points finishes of 3rd at Hungary
and 4th in Belgium
, However, by this stage it
was clear that the Ferrari team were struggling as both Irvine and
Salo began complaining about the car's lack of grip and poor
handling (It was suggested that the team's lack of proper
development was due to Michael Schumacher's missing presence in the
team). This became more apparent during the Hungarian and Belgian
rounds but moreso at Ferrari's Home Grand Prix
at Monza, where
Irvine struggled for pace and finished a lackluster 6th (in
contrast, teammate Salo, who's driving style seemed to suit the
Ferrari's lack of grip at high speed tracks, finished 3rd). This
streak cost Irvine valuable points although it was somewhat offset
by Häkkinen's misfortune in several races during this period
(highlighted by a notorious blunder at the aforementioned Italian
GP at Monza), but nevertheless, Irvine's lead from a peak 8 points
was completely wiped out and both he and Häkkinen were equal coming
towards the European Round
at the Nurburgring.
Irvine looked set for a very good points day and maybe a possible
victory after McLaren gave Häkkinen the wrong tires in a race
plagued by rapidly changing weather conditions. Unfortunately the
normally flawless Ferrari pitcrew performed badly during his
pitstop and he ultimately finished 7th, out of the points, whereas
a resurgent Häkkinen managed to catch and pass Irvine and Marc
and finish 5th. With a 2
point disadvantage, the returning Schumacher aided him in Malaysia
; starting on pole with
Irvine behind in 2nd (the Ferraris suddenly fast again), he let his
team-mate pass for the win (his 4th of the season) and then
proceeded to hold up a visibly exhausted Häkkinen for 2nd place.
Then after the race, 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 by just 4 points.
In the title showdown at Japan
, a finish in front of Mika
Häkkinen would guarantee Irvine the title. Unfortunately, Irvine
struggled for pace and ultimately ended up finishing third behind a
triumphant Häkkinen and runner-up Schumacher, handing the
championship to the Finn.
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
even with one race to go. However, the 1999 season used a
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
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
He was a millionaire through property investment before reaching
Formula One. Outside of F1, Irvine is said to have built up a
portfolio, owning around forty properties throughout the world.
According to the Sunday Times
, 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
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
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
team, and Irvine of the boys
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
In 2002, Irvine successfully sued TalkSport
for "passing off" his image in a print advertisement, as
if he had personally endorsed the station.
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.
(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.
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
British Union Flag
was flown. However, at
his third podium, a second place for Ferrari
at the 1997 Argentine Grand Prix
was mistakenly flown
by the race organisers. This led to his family receiving
threatening phone calls. Irvine then requested that at subsequent
races, a politically neutral shamrock
be flown, and the non-sectarian Londonderry Air
be played to mark a victory.
An FIA spokesman said:
Irvine has self-identified as being Irish:
Complete Formula One Grand Prix results
() (Races in bold
indicate pole position) (Races
indicate fastest lap)
- Biography f1complete.com. Retrieved on
- ITV Sport
- Suzuka, 1993
- "Who Blair Wins" By: Kelleher, Lynne The Sunday Mirror June 18,
- Pamela Anderson: Eddie Irvine Was Too
- Irvine v Talksport. EWHC 367 (Ch).
- FIA international sporting regulations para
- Villeneuve backs return to 'real racetracks'
Independent. Published on 25-04-08. Retrieved on 21-03-08.