Irvine vs Dennis: round two

Eddie Irvine continued his verbal jousting with rival boss Ron Dennis over last year's failed contract talks

Irvine vs Dennis: round two

He said Ron Dennis had told him he was better than David Coulthard.

Dennis had earlier criticised the Ulsterman for claiming he had turned down the McLaren drive because he was not offered enough money.

They never got as far as talking money, the McLaren supremo insisted, because McLaren chose to keep their line-up the same.

Irvine had his say again after the Australian Grand Prix.

"I don't care about his feelings," said the unrepentant race ace, who signed a £20 million deal with Jaguar instead.

"Ron does a great job amd if he was my boss I would care but he's not. I work against him."

"I told them I wasn't going to drive for the sort of figures Couthard is supposed to earn.

"It is not as if Ron can't afford it.

"You have got to pay people what they think they are worth. You can't get people cheap."

"He told me I was better than Coulthard but not better enough to take the risk," said the Irishman after yesterday's race.

Dennis was annoyed that Irvine had given the impression he was dictating the terms of talks.

But Irvine says he was the one person NOT talking about their meeting - when the rest of the paddock seemed to know about it.

"I didn't say a thing but everyone else seemed to know," he said.

"Everyone was talking about it except me. I was the only one at the meeting with several people from McLaren and it certainly didn't come from me."

Dennis said money talks never took place.

"It is wrong for Eddie to say he chose not to drive for McLaren because of financial discussions. They never took place," said Dennis.

"He may be a colourful character but he shouldn't re-write history."

Irvine made it plain at the start he would be demanding a considerable pay cheque but Dennis says talks never got that far.

But he confirmed the team had met with the four-time winner and they had also talked over the telephone.

"Every year we do a very detailed analysis of all the available drivers," said Dennis.

"Yes, we met Eddie and yes, we talked on the telephone but at no stage whatsoever was money discussed.

"I am extremely uncomfortable to see Eddie's view that he was the one dictating the circumstances under which he would take the drive.

"He was understandably very, very keen to drive for us, but we chose to stay exactly as we are because we thought David and Mika were the best drivers.

"We have the ability to pay what we want to who we want but we have never taken a decision based on money.

"We chose the drivers and they are both very highly paid and very happy.

"Both our drivers earn exceedingly good money. The decison not to offer Eddie the drive was based on nothing else but who we felt was best for the job.

"As much as he continually snipes the facts speak for themselves.

"Our discussions were very amiable and friendly but now I am disappointed in him.

Dennis said that despite his reputation as an out-spoken wild boy he was impressed with the Irishman's approach to racing.

"I was very positively surprised at the meetings we had with him."

But he was less that pleased at the Irishman's belief that the team only wants drab, subservient drivers in the cockpit.

"We will put the two drivers we want whether they are poor communicators, ugly or have no dress sense. Its after we have decided who we want that we discuss the money.

"Money was not an issue. It was only an issue with Damon."

"Having such discussions is not a case of being disloyal to Mika or David we are a professional organisation.

"We are very very comfortable with our decision and David is doing a very good job.

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