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Old 07-03-2002, 21:38   #1 (permalink)
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Read Jaguar Confirm They've Held Talks With Button

JAGUAR have confirmed they've held talks with Renault driver Jenson Button, adding to speculation that Eddie Irvine could leave the team at the end of the season.

However team boss Niki Lauda said the team was just checking out the options, stressing that nothing had been decided between the team and Button.

"We have looked at [Fernando] Alonso, [Mark] Webber and we talked to Button because we are evaluating what drivers are available next year," Lauda revealed in London on Tuesday.

"It could be that we start next year again with Eddie [Irvine] and Pedro [de la Rosa], but it could very well be that we do something else because we haven't taken a decision yet.

"Pedro has a contract for next year really, so he will stay for sure. So the question is Eddie."

Speculation about Irvine's future at the Milton Keynes-based team intensified when Alonso tested for the Leaping Cats at Silverstone last month.

The 36-year-old driver who is the third-highest paid driver behind Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher has also been vocal about the lack of competitiveness of the Jaguar cars, and has admitted that his F1 future could well depend on how well the revised R3B performs at Silverstone this weekend.

Nevertheless Lauda said it would be the team and not Irvine, who decides whether the he remains at Jaguar.

"He is doing a good job," Lauda continued, "no question. But we decide who drives the car.

"First of all, we have to get the car in order. This is the number one priority.

"As soon as the car is getting better and we know what the next steps are, then will we think of the driver situation," he added.

Meanwhile ****** team boss Eddie ****** has revealed that his team had their eye on Irvine, who got his first F1 drive with the Irish outfit.

****** said in Belfast on Wednesday that an Irvine return was "always a possibility".

"What Eddie has is a very high level of experience," ****** said. "He's quick and I believe that ****** can find a new motivational value inside him.

"I think he needs a change. He feels and we feel that ****** is like his home."
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