MOTOR RACING: FORGET MY HOWLER; Hungary Is History as Eddie Gets Ready for Belgian Bunfight
Macauley, Ted, The Mirror (London, England)
EDDIE Irvine has been working hard to dispel any misconceptions that either his spirit or his heart was broken after his costly championship setback in Hungary.
But while his outlook from the deck of his pounds 2 million yacht moored off St Tropez may be sunny, the crucial question is: How much of it is sheer bravado?
The Irishman's blunder that tricked him off the track and out of second place and six points in Budapest reaped a harvest of sniggers and the remark from foe David Coultard "He is not so chirpy now, is he?"
But 33-year-old Irvine's undaunted response yesterday was full of undiminished ambition: "I can hold on to my lead - and I can win the title, even if the McLarens are that little bit quicker."
And he adds: "I honestly don't know if it was my fault, or the fault of the car. It had been jumping round all over the place.
"But I am not too worried and even though there is work to be done, I am sure we'll be back in business by the next race."
It's fighting talk from the driver Ferrari are backing with all their might ....even though new star Irvine is set to exit his Italian stage, champion or not, after five more races which will decide his and the Prancing Horse team's destiny in the title race.
Irvine cannot lose....
McLaren aside all the top teams want him - he's the talent that has blossomed out of adversity and muddy doubt over his ability to cope since team leader Michael Schumacher's accident at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix.
He has a Stewart-Ford-Jaguar draft contract under perusal. Ferrari are re-thinking his status - and his Formula One mentor Eddie Jordan refuses to relent on his tracking of the man who would be king.
Irvine reveals the star spotter who discovered him and put him in the F1 firmament before selling him on to Ferrari three years ago, desperately wants him in the gold livery of Jordan.
He has been moving with the stealth of a double agent along the paddock holding secret talks with big money men waving fat wallets.
"Whether it's time to jump ship or not," he says, giving nothing away. "I am not sure."
Then he revealed: "But every year Eddie Jordan has rung me up to speak about coming back.
"I never thought it was the right time to do it. But we'll have to wait and see.
"You've just got to weigh up the options and see which one will hurt the least.
"At this minute, it is still better to be number two in a Ferrari than number one in anything else. …