Eddie Irvine: Max reminds me of Michael Schumacher

Former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine on his impressions of the season, working with Michael Schumacher and the performances of Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas …

Q: Eddie, how is your impression of this season?
Eddie Irvine: So far, everything has been amazing. At the moment, Verstappen is the fastest driver, but Lewis Hamilton is still a master of his craft. These guys are great to follow. A great season awaits us.

Question Now Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen are performing better than ever. How did they make this progress?
Eddie Irvine: After six years in Formula 1, Verstappen is finally getting it right. He has always been a fast rider – he is the type of person who becomes the leader and is consistently ahead of his partner. He competed with many riders, but no one managed to get close to him. In this he reminds me a little of Michael Schumacher. Lewis’ teammates have outperformed him from time to time in qualifications or in races. Verstappen has an amazing talent, and Hamilton is a professional with very few vulnerabilities.

Question: In 1999, you fought for the title – and this was associated with a certain pressure …
Eddie Irvine: There is a huge pressure in Formula 1. The base employs from 500 to 600 people, but the result depends only on the rider – and he feels a huge responsibility.

The rider wants to do his job well – every athlete wants to perform as best as possible. Not everything depends on the rider, but he must constantly give all his best at 100%.

In 1999, it was very difficult for me, because it was my only chance to fight for the title, and I was close to the goal, but did not succeed. Basically, the fact that this is my only chance only increased the pressure, but we get paid for it.

Question: Has the situation changed in 20 years?
Eddie Irvine: Like any other sport, Formula 1 has become more professional. But we can say for sure that it is no longer as interesting as it used to be.

Question We have heard the mutual attacks of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at press conferences. Is it easy to get personal with your rivals?
Eddie Irvine: I have never had a problem getting personal. For me, professional and personal life has always been one. All is fair in love and war, and I see Formula 1 as a war, so I could easily criticize or say something that I thought could help me. I performed for myself and the team, and did not pay attention to the others.

Q: You have been a partner of Michael Schumacher for four years. How did you feel about the fact that you had to be “number two” with your partner?
Eddie Irvine: On the one hand, being Schumacher’s partner is something amazing, because I had the opportunity to work with a man whom I still consider the greatest racer in history. He had a huge advantage over his teammates. Of course, with age he began to lose speed, but at the beginning of his career it was interesting to follow his excellent performances. From this point of view, being his partner is an honor for me.

Of course, against the background of Schumacher, I looked modest, but I was partly lucky, because by the time I became Michael’s partner, a special attitude had already developed towards him. People did not understand how good Schumacher was.

Question: What did you learn from each other while performing together?
Eddie Irvine: It is difficult to learn from Michael, because he had a unique talent. He had an amazing ability to get the most out of a car. That’s all.

Question: Who did you enjoy performing with the most?
Eddie Irvine: I would like to say that this is Michael, because we have an excellent working relationship. I’ve never had a problem with him. He worked hard every weekend. If I had to work for a team, I had to work for a team – that’s all. It’s simple.

Q: How do riders like Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez cope with the status of “number two”?
Eddie Irvine: The main task is to do your job as best as possible. Bottas was already ahead of Hamilton – this happened more often before than now, and Verstappen had already proved that the game was over. Perez and Bottas are the de facto number two riders, but in the same team with Verstappen and Hamilton it is not so bad.

I doubt that someone in Formula 1 will be able to regularly get ahead of them behind the wheel of the same car. Hamilton is getting older, he is no longer as fast as before, but still a master of his craft. Everyone understands that Verstappen is so fast that he will outrun any partner.

Q: How successfully is Formula 1 attracting new audiences thanks to the broadcasts on Channel 4 and the series Drive to Survive?
Eddie Irvine: In Formula 1 everything was well thought out with Drive to Survive. Wherever I go, and I travel a lot in the USA, Europe and the Bahamas – everywhere many people tell me that they love Formula 1 and Netflix. This is what happens when new owners come along who know about marketing. They did a great job trying to make the content as interesting as possible. This attracted the fans. Owners now have new challenges, but they’ve done a great job of attracting new audiences. I would give them 10 points out of 10.

Source: Формула 1 на F1News.ru by www.f1news.ru.

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