Lauda pays tribute to Irvine

Jaguar Formula 1 boss Niki Lauda has praised Eddie Irvine's work for the team as he confirmed that the Ulsterman will not be retained for 2003

Lauda pays tribute to Irvine

Irvine and his team-mate Pedro de la Rosa have both been dropped in favour of rising stars Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia. The new duo have only one year's experience of racing in F1 between them, while Irvine and de la Rosa are veterans of grand prix racing.

Lauda said: "I cannot thank Eddie enough for his hard work and commitment during the last three seasons. He has been with us right from day one and while there have been some difficult and challenging periods to endure, Eddie's resilience and focus remained throughout.

"His experience, speed and race craft are exemplary and the decision to replace him in no way reflects upon his clear ability as a competitive racer."

Unlike Irvine, de la Rosa still had a year to run on his Jaguar contract and a settlement had to be made for him to be dismissed.

"Pedro has unfortunately struggled with some aspects of the programme and in simple terms, it hasn't really worked out for either party," said Lauda. "It's unfortunate, yes, that that's F1. We wanted to adopt a fresh approach for next year and our strategy is firmly geared towards making progress at all levels of the business."

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