Irvine, Montoya Reject Seat-Swapping Proposal

Irishman Eddie Irvine and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya have voiced their disagreement with a proposed rule by which Formula One drivers may be asked to race for a different team in each of the season's opening 10 races.

Irvine, Montoya Reject Seat-Swapping Proposal

Irishman Eddie Irvine and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya have voiced their disagreement with a proposed rule by which Formula One drivers may be asked to race for a different team in each of the season's opening 10 races.

Teams have been sent a list of suggestions, some more extreme than others, for debate later this month at the International Automobile Federation (FIA)'s Formula One commission meeting.

The agenda for discussion, seen by Reuters today and confirmed as accurate by Formula One sources, includes the seat-swapping proposal. The leading driver after 10 races would then choose which of the teams he wants to complete the season with.

Other measures on the table for discussion include "success ballast", with a kilo added to a driver's car for every point won in 2003 and restrictions on testing. There could also be an "aerodynamics freeze", with only two sets of bodywork authorised at the start of a season, and long-life engines designed to last for up to eight races by 2005.

With one race remaining, World Champion Michael Schumacher has 134 points in this year's Championship followed by Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello with 71. Third-placed Juan Pablo Montoya, in a Williams, has 46 points.

Jaguar's Irvine, asked about the FIA seat-swapping idea at the Japanese Grand Prix, dismissed it as unworkable.

"How can I go and stand in a Jaguar showroom having driven a Ferrari in the last race?" he said. "Imagine the image of Ferrari if Michael's driving around in a Minardi in the Monaco Grand Prix. That's a non-starter.

"But it's just people throwing ideas in, which is fair enough. Maybe one of them will be good."

Montoya said that he had joined Williams because he believed they were the best team and it would be unfair to have to change.

"If the best drive you can find is Minardi then get on with it. But if you end up signing for a team like Williams and drive for them it would be crazy," he said. "The sponsors would not like that, where are they going to promote?"

Television audiences around the world have been switching off as Schumacher and Barrichello rack up processional one-two finishes this season.

Silly Suggestions

Ferrari, constructors' champions for the fourth successive year, have won 14 of the 16 races so far this year and are set for a record-equalling 15th in Japan. McLaren's David Coulthard said there had been some speculative ideas, "some of them a bit silly", that needed more thinking through.

Irvine suggested that the starting point for discussion should be sharing out television revenues on an equal basis among teams rather than favouring the most successful ones with cash and then penalising them with ballast.

"Why give Ferrari 15 times as much money as you give Minardi and then give them a load of lead to put in the car to make it go slow?" he asked.

"It's probably just a better idea to give smaller teams an even share of the money, which isn't going to make them beat Ferrari but is going to bring them (the smaller teams) up a little bit. I would even the money out first and if that doesn't work, then I'd introduce the weight."

Start Racing

Irvine and Montoya agreed that the fundamental problem was Ferrari's adherence to team orders - when drivers are told in which order to finish by their team - rather than allowing their drivers to race each other freely.

"What's got to happen is Ferrari have got to start racing each other," said Irvine. "I don't have anything against Ferrari but the problem is caused by Ferrari because they are winning and they are not doing any racing," said Montoya.

"They are only doing 80 percent of the race and then they are queuing up one behind the other and people don't want to see that."

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