|Eddie Irvine, Silverstone 1998|
|Years||1993 - 2002|
|Team(s)||Jordan, Ferrari, Jaguar|
|First race||1993 Japanese Grand Prix|
|First win||1999 Australian Grand Prix|
|Last win||1999 Malaysian Grand Prix|
|Last race||2002 Japanese Grand Prix|
He grew up in Conlig, County Down. Irvine was influenced by his parents, who are also involved in motor racing. His father, Edmund Sr., and his sister, Sonia (now a physiotherapist), worked with him in his career.
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: He won four races, taking the Drivers' Championship to the last race, finishing a close second 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.
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. 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 generally appreciated.
Ferrari (1996 - 1999)
The Ferrari team picked him as number 2 to Michael Schumacher for 1996. Despite out-qualifying and beating the German in the first race of the season, Irvine was forced to play second fiddle and on many occasions, sacrificed potential good results to help his team-mate.
In 1998 he suffered from back pain which required that his seat be adjusted to help combat this problem. Possibly stemming from this, a journalist suggested he was unfit. His playboy image might also have contributed to the journalist's allegation. In stark contrast however, and three days prior to the publication of the article, Eddie Irvine 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 in the 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 in Formula One, Irvine would have won the 1999 championship.
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 Jaguar Racing 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 in 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. His car is currently on show in the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
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 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 now executive producer of a film being produced about Paddy Mayne.
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 autumn 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."
|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|
|24 hours Le Mans||SARD Toyota||1||0||0||N/A||2nd|
Complete Formula One Grand Prix results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)