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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 12:51 GMT

Irvine's $2m miss

Champion Hakkinen embraces second-placed Eddie Irvine

Eddie Irvine missed out on a $2m bonus from Ferrari when he failed to win the F1 drivers' championship in the final race at Suzuka last Sunday.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that he offered the British ace the incentive after number one driver Michael Schumacher broke his leg in the British Grand Prix in July.

Irvine 'brilliant'

"I met Irvine in August and I told him he would be paid $2m if he won the drivers' championship," said Montezemolo.

"We wanted him to win it and I told him to tell me if he wanted anything at all."

In the event, the Ulsterman was pipped by reigning world champion Mika Hakkinen of the McLaren team, although Ferrari did win the constructors' championship.

Montezemolo said he was "hurt" by suggestions that his team had not supported Irvine as well as it could.

He described the British driver's performances over the season as "brilliant".

"I hope he doesn't have a better one with his new team Jaguar next year," he said.

Irvine stepped down from Ferrari to take up the position of number one driver with the renamed Stewart Ford team. It is the first time an F1 team has raced under the famous British marque.

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