Eddie Irvine, a jovial character from Northern Ireland, made his name in the lucrative and hugely popular Japanese F3000 series in the early 90’s, where he was one of a band of drivers who would eventually graduate to F1. His debut in the category came at the wheel of a Jordan in Japan in 1993, where he immediately made an impression, although not the one he expected.

During the race – in which he finished sixth – he overtook Ayrton Senna to get back on the lead lap, a move that angered Senna to the degree he went to the Jordan pit to have it out with Irvine, and actually threw a punch at him!

Eddie Irvine – His Ferrari Years

A couple more years at Jordan brought occasional results, but it’s fair to say that Irvine was a surprise announcement as a Ferrari driver during the winter of 1995. The Scuderia had been looking for a new driver, but Irvine’s name was not mentioned until it was confirmed. It is believed the transaction made Eddie Jordan, the team owner, substantially wealthier!

Irvine’s years at Ferrari saw him perform the role of a very competent back-up driver, taking wins where Schumacher failed. In 1999, however, he had to take over as team leader when Schumacher was injured in the British Grand Prix, and subsequently mounted a serious championship challenge until beaten to the title by McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen in the final race. Notably, Ferrari took the Constructors Championship that year, for the first time in 16 years.

Irvine left Ferrari for Jaguar the next season, and would enjoy a few more years with moderate success before retiring from the sport when no attractive propositions were forthcoming at the end of 2002.

Irvine the Man

A likeable if often aloof character, with an attitude that displayed confidence and arrogance in one, Eddie Irvine had a reputation as a lady’s man. Since leaving racing behind, he has forged a successful career in property, in which he invested heavily during his racing career from early days. He remains unmarried, but has one daughter from an earlier lengthy relationship.

 

Stats:

Wins – 4 (all with Ferrari)

Podiums – 26

Starts – 147

 

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