Monday December 6th, 1999
Eddie Irvine has tipped his former team mate Michael Schumacher as favourite to win the 2000 Formula One World Championship.
At an awards ceremony on Sunday night, where Irvine picked up the British Driver of the Year award, Irvine warned competitors that he felt Michael Schumacher would be hard to beat in 2000.
"There is no doubting Michael's driving talent and he is going to be the one to beat next year," said Irvine. "The McLaren boys have got the best technical man in the business in Adrian Newey, but they will have to come up with something special to get near Michael.
"McLaren did their best to throw it away last year. That was disappointing for me because going into the last race in Japan I was the leader, but it just didn't happen."
Meanwhile, Hakkinen, who will be attempting to win a third successive title, had a swipe back at Irvine.
"I am not worried at all about competing against a fit-again Michael Schumacher next year. Although I would rather be racing against Eddie Irvine in the Ferrari," he said.