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  Sunday, 15 September, 2002, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Irvine praises Jaguar progress
Eddie Irvine on the Monza podium with Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari chief designer Rory Byrne
Irvine joined the Ferrari team on the podium

Eddie Irvine has hailed as "amazing" his Jaguar team's comeback from the Formula One depths this season.

The Northern Irishman finished third in the Italian Grand Prix, the team's best performance since Irvine achieved the same result in Monaco last year.

It signals an incredible turnaround in form for Jaguar, who started the season battling with Minardi to stay off the very back of the grid.

Irvine said: "The depths we were at before was incredible. To come back from there in one season is amazing.


It has taken a lot of work
Gunther Steiner
Jaguar technical director

"It wasn't easy, and I'm glad eventually people started listening to me and we did start making changes, otherwise I wouldn't be standing here. I would have cleared off a long time ago."

"For us to get a podium is much better than Ferrari getting a win.

"To be on the podium is something very special. I'm very pleased to have achieved that for myself and the four points is fantastic for the team," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

Irvine's performance at Monza, where he qualified fifth, comes two weeks after he finished sixth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

That was the team's first points finish since a lucky fourth place finish for Irvine in the first race of the year in Australia.

The result moves Jaguar up to sixth in the constructors' championship, leapfrogging them ahead of Jordan and BAR.

That is a position of which the team could only have dreamed during the disastrous early part of the the season.

Jaguar have introduced a raft of changes to the troublesome R3 and it has become a gradually more competitive propostion since mid-season.

Jaguar technical director Gunther Steiner said: "It is the best day of our season - everyone is very pleased with the result.

"It has taken a lot of work - we started to improve in Silverstone when we introduced the new aerodynamic package and then we started to work with that.

"In France the performance was already a bit better.

"Then in Spa we had the new suspension which helped a lot."

Steiner also paid tribute to driver Eddie Irvine, who, according to latest speculation in F1, may after all be staying with the team next year.

Eddie Irvine cuts across the first chicane at the start of the Italian Grand Prix
Irvine battles with Michael Schumacher at the start in Monza
"Eddie did a fantastic job today and also in the past," Steiner said.

Australian rising star Mark Webber had been in line to replace Irvine, who has spent three years with Jaguar since leaving Ferrari at the end of 1999.

But it now appears as if Irvine has a chance of retaining his seat.

"The last two weekends have been very good and I'm out of contract so that's kind of good also," Irvine said.

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

Race statistics

On-track action

News from Monza

Analysis

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
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