Irvine pulls out of Austrian GP

Eddie Irvine has withdrawn from Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. The Jaguar driver is said to be suffering from suspected appendicitis and is flying back to the UK for treatment. Test driver Luciano Burti has been drafted in to take the Ulsterman's place

Irvine pulls out of Austrian GP

Irvine had been feeling unwell since his arrival at the track on Thursday, and was complaining of abdominal pains. He consulted medical experts at the circuit and has been advised to fly back to London to get a second opinion from prominent surgeon Professor Williams. His private jet has already left for England.

Irvine made no comment, but Neil Ressler, Jaguar Racing's Chairmand and CEO, said: "Having taken advice of surgeons here in Austria, Eddie has flown back to England to undergo further tests so a fuller diagnosis can be given."

"It was the opinion of the medical team that given the discomfort Eddie was in, there was little point in him continuing this weekend. Our priority is to ensure that he returns to full health as quickly as possible."

Irvine could only manage 21st place in today's free practice sessions, but he put his poor position down to a gearbox problem then an electrical fault, and gave no indication he was suffering from any physical problem.

Jaguar test driver Luciano Burti now takes Irvine's place for round 10 of the championship. Burti, 25, is no stranger to the Jaguar R1. The young Brazilian has impressed the team during his testing sessions and he should be well used to the car's weaknesses. However, he is unfamiliar with the A1-Ring and Irvine's withdrawal from the race he won for Ferrari last year will surely add to the woes the team has suffered thus far.

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