Monday October 15th, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
Jaguar cannot afford another Formula One season like 2001, according to Eddie Irvine.
"Next year's car has got to be a lot better than this year's car," the Northern Irish driver said at the Japanese Grand Prix, where Jaguar scored no points and were hamstrung by fuel rig problems.
"I think we've pinpointed a few things where we need to work maybe a little bit more in a certain area," he said before the race in an assessment of the team's position. "I don't think we can afford to make compromises. I think we made too many last year and really if we come out with another slow car it's the same story again. We have got to come out with a quick car."
Jaguar ended the season with a provisional nine points, and eighth place in the Championship, depending on the outcome of a Jordan appeal from the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. In 2000, the debut year for the Ford-owned team after replacing Stewart, they scored four. But Irvine said the figures were misleading.
"We've got more points than we got last year but really we haven't improved as much as we should have done," he said. "Last year we probably would have been higher up if we hadn't had the clutch problems getting off the lights."
"I qualified consistently in the top 10 and if we hadn't had that problem I would have got points in a lot of races," added Irvine. "I was normally 13th by the first corner. This year I've qualified reasonably badly, we've made good starts because of our launch control and we have a reasonably good race car with great tyres.
"If we had a good clutch or launch control last year we would have probably scored more points than this year. But if you look at it strategy-wise, we have probably done a better job than anyone this year - or at least as good as anyone. We just haven't got the car to do the job."
Irvine said it was too early to be optimistic but he was sure that the 2002 Jaguar would be lighter, more aerodynamic and above all, quicker. On Sunday, Irvine had worked his way up to seventh place and Jaguar were hopeful of leapfrogging Benetton in the standings.
But then both power generators on his fuel rigs failed and he called it a day. Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa, who scored three of Jaguar's points, had to start in the spare when the crank sensor failed and then retired with eight laps remaining due to an oil leak.
"We have finished the season in eighth place in the Constructors' Championship and we'll now focus everything we have into next year's challenger, the Jaguar R3," said team principal Niki Lauda. "There is clearly a lot of work ahead of us."
Published at 08:35:08 GMT