Ferrari tech boss slates Irvine

Ferrari technical boss Ross Brawn has slated Eddie Irvine for "poncing around nightclubs" while other drivers were working on driver safety

Ferrari tech boss slates Irvine

The criticism of the playboy Ulsterman came from Brawn after the Jaguar racing driver called on Michael Schumacher to resign as the drivers' safety representative because he was not listening to their concerns.

In his strongest worded attack yet in the controversy over the Ferrari ace's rough racing tactics, Brawn lashed out at Irvine for criticising Schumacher when he has done nothing to promote driver safety himself.

Irvine was one of the most outspoken critic of Schumacher's weaving tactics that Jacques Villeneuve warned could lead to a serious accident. While few other drivers were willing to speak their minds, Irvine echoed their concerns, but his words were dismissed by Schumacher.

Brawn insists the criticisms are not valid.

"In the four years I worked with Eddie, he never once lifted a finger to improve safety," he said. "When Eddie was jet-skiing and poncing around nightclubs, Michael was liasing with the FIA and circuits to improve safety. For all the drivers.

"He (Irvine) complained at Grand Prix driver's briefings but that was all the effort he was prepared to make.

"Michael has spent many hours and days of his own time working with the FIA and various circuits to try to improve things. What Eddie has said is not fair and it is not respectful."

Brawn believes Irvine is trying to get his own back because he was regularly outgunned by the German when they were teammates at Ferrari until the end of last season.

"I guess he had a difficult time for four years and has decided it is time to start paying him back."

Irvine's criticisms have been backed by former champion Jacques Villeneuve and Schumacher's championship rival David Coulthard.

Villeneuve lashed out at the German saying he lacked ethics to drive fairly, while Coulthard said he was endangering other lives unnecessarily.

Brawn also believes Coulthard's attacks are to try and increase pressure on Schumacher as the championship reaches its climax.

"David has an agenda," said Brawn. "He is resentful of Michael's comments earlier this year that he considered Mika Hakkinen the real threat, even though David was ahead of Mika in the championship. What we have seen in the last couple of races, perhaps Michael is right...

"David recently said he was delighted to see Michael was struggling, which was not very nice. Michael would never say that."

Villeneuve denies there is a driver vendetta against Schumacher for veering across his rivals at the start of the race, but waded into race officials warning a driver could get seriously hurt.

"If this carries on there is going to be a 10-car pile-up and someone will get seriously hurt. Until that happens nothing will be done."

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