Tuesday August 21st, 2001
Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal offered Eddie Irvine to Formula One rivals Jordan after the sacking of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, British newspapers reported on Tuesday.
But the American, a three-time CART champion and team owner in that series who joined Jaguar last year after the team's poor debut season, insisted he had been merely joking.
"I was just joshing with Eddie Jordan as old friends do," Rahal told the Guardian. "We were sympathising with him over his breach with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. It was certainly not intended to be serious."
Frentzen, now at Prost, was sacked by Jordan before the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim last month and has been replaced by Frenchman Jean Alesi. The Sun said Rahal was blocked by Jaguar's Niki Lauda, who co-ordinates the activities of the race team with Cosworth engines and other companies owned by parent company Ford.
The Express said Lauda was reported to be furious.
"I am going to investigate and see what happened," that paper quoted him as saying. "From my point of view, we have a contract with Eddie and so it's a simple thing."
Irvine, who has been defended by Rahal this season, has a year remaining on his contract with Jaguar. The team have scored five points in 2001.
Published at 10:09:24 GMT