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banner Friday, 4 January, 2002, 14:37 GMT
Irvine shapes up for new season
Eddie Irvine
Irvine was cautious about the new Jaguar's prospects
Eddie Irvine pronounced himself fitter than ever as Jaguar unveiled their new R3 Formula One car on Friday.

Irvine's speed around an F1 track is matched only by the pace of his life off it and the Northern Irishman has never tried to hide his love of partying and women.

However, the Northern Irishman, said he had enjoyed a quiet Christmas with his girlfriend and the rest had paid off.

"I did a fitness exam a couple of weeks ago and it was one of the highest scores ever measured by a Formula One driver," said Irvine, who gave Jaguar a first podium with third place in Monaco last season.

"It surprises me, but there we go. It's just the Irish blood and red wine, you know. I do the same things and it's just going well."

We've just got to wait and see what happens with this car, that's the question mark
Jaguar's Eddie Irvine
At 36, Irvine is now the oldest driver on the grid following the retirement of Jean Alesi.

Time is running out in his quest to add to his tally of four race wins, all of which came during his time at Ferrari.

But Irvine was cautious about Jaguar's prospects going into the new season.

"We've just got to wait and see what happens with this car, that's the question mark," he said, after uncovering the new R3.

"It's easy to say it's going to be the classiest and you come to the first race and you're 20th on the grid and you look like a plonker.

"For sure it's going to be better than last year's car but it's too early to say exactly where we're at. But it is better in all the right areas."

Eddie Irvine
Irvine's four race wins came with Ferrari
Irvine's contract with Jaguar at the end of 2002, but he firmly dismissed speculation that this might be his last season in the sport.

"The end of my current contract with Jaguar does not stipulate that I must leave Formula One," he said.

"I must check the contract and see if that's what it says. If I do the job, I stay. If I don't do the job I go. That's normal. It's sport."

Jaguar team boss Niki Lauda echoed Irvine's assertion that the new car is a vast improvement on its predecessor.

"The weight was a problem last year and the aerodynamics were a problem," said the Austrian three times world champion.

"This car is much better in both areas."

Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine
"It's a big step forward from last year's car"
See also:

04 Jan 02 |  Formula One
Jaguar set sights on F1 title
04 Jan 02 |  Formula One
McNish's 'gut feeling' on Ferrari
03 Jan 02 |  Formula One
McLaren reveal launch date
03 Jan 02 |  Formula One
BAR chief sets sights high
14 Dec 01 |  Formula One
Ford stand by Jaguar
20 Dec 01 |  Formula One
Lauda to test Jaguar car
29 Nov 01 |  Formula One
Rally aid for Jaguar
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