Formula One is popularly known as The Show, and Life in the Fast Lane suggests that the wilfully controversial Eddie Irvine is playing a role as a devil-may-care maverick. The bulk of his book deals with the 1999 season, when the Ulsterman was forced to shoulder the responsibility of bringing Ferrari their first driver's championship for 20 years thanks to Michael SchumacherÂ’s injury.
Until then, most pundits agree, he rather enjoyed taking a back seat. And as the title of the book suggests, he takes pride in his reputation as playboy of the paddock Â– his then-technical director Ross Brawn described him as Â‘poncing around in nightclubsÂ’ while Schuey worked with the mechanics late into the night. But by EddieÂ’s own admission, heÂ’s as selfish as the next driver. He repeatedly claims he wants to be team number one as much as anyone, as his move to Jaguar has since demonstrated.
Revealing, extensive extracts from his family and friends show his real nature to be shy and retiring. Eddie comes across as a good guy who enjoys the craic. He whines about SchumacherÂ’s preferential treatment, even complaining that his co-driver gained an advantage because his balaclava was more elastic. But heÂ’s not afraid to take the mickey out of himself Â– you can imagine his Irish eyes twinkling as he discusses upgrading his jet: Â‘It would just be extravagant and thatÂ’s against my nature.Â’
And is there anyone who wouldnÂ’t swap places with him? Particularly after seeing the spectacular colour photos of Irvine pictured alongside the latest models Â– and weÂ’re not talking about the carsÂ…