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  Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Irvine joins Ferrari furore
Michael Schumacher leads Eddie Irvine at the French Grand Prix in 1999
Irvine had to move over for Schumacher in 1999
  Were Ferrari wrong? Have your say

Eddie Irvine has added his voice to the Austrian Grand Prix debate by insisting Ferrari were wrong to deprive Rubens Barrichello of victory.

Barrichello moved over to hand Michael Schumacher maximum points at the A1 Ring on the orders of his team bosses.

Irvine, who now drives for Jaguar, gave way on several occasions to help Schumacher when he was number two at Ferrari.


If Michael had gone against the team's wishes that would have been anarchy
Eddie Irvine

But he believes the Italian team have progressed so much since then that they no longer need to use team orders to succeed.

"Ferrari missed the big picture when they ordered Rubens Barrichello to move over so Schuey could win," said Irvine.

"Now they are virtually unbeatable they should look further afield, instead of just trying to pile yet more championships on their growing heap.

"They now have the chance to set new standards."

Irvine insists Schumacher should not be blamed for his part in the controversy.

"Michael is blameless. His hands are tied just as much as Rubens' are," said Irvine.

"Forget the millions that he is paid, the wins he has delivered - or his status within the team.

"He is just another employee who has to do as he is told.

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello embrace after the Austrian Grand Prix.
Irvine says Schumacher and Barrichello had to obey orders
"If he had gone against the team's wishes that would have been anarchy - and Schumacher is a true professional and team player.

"I drove alongside Michael for three years and never disobeyed an instruction.

"If I had ignored their pleas to move over for Michael in the 1999 French Grand Prix so he could gain an extra point I would have been sacked."

Irvine said that if anyone should shoulder the blame for the outcry, it must be team bosses Ross Brawn and Jean Todt.

"Ross is a great guy but also a viciously ambitious person and nothing must get in the way of Ferrari winning the championship," Irvine told The Sun newspaper.

"The trouble is there is no thought for public opinion or what the team's next goal is - except even more title success.

"The focus is to clinch a third championship in a row. But Ferrari are bigger and better than that."

Meanwhile, the son of team founder Enzo Ferrari claims his father would have approved of Schumacher's victory.

Piero Ferrari said: "There are those who said that Enzo Ferrari would be spinning in his grave.

"I think I knew him quite well and I can say to those people that last Sunday afternoon I thought of my father looking down with a smile, while seeing his two cars dominate the grand prix and two drivers obeying team orders."

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