July 17th, 2002

Milk Carton

Lauda: Pedro is Safe for another year

Jaguar Racing CEO Niki Lauda has confirmed that Pedro de la Rosa will stay on with the team next year, which strongly suggests that Eddie Irvine is out of a drive in 2003.

The team has tested numerous drivers of late. It already has Andre Lotterer and James Courtney under contract, and also put Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in its car lately. On top of that, Jenson Button has been for talks with the team and Lauda is clearly interested in the young Briton.

"We have looked at Alonso and Webber and we talked to Button because we are evaluating what drivers are available next year," he said. "Pedro has a contract next year really so he will stay for sure. So the question is Eddie..."

Irvine will not have done any favours for himself by making disparaging comments about the new R3B after just 15 laps in the car. He has reportedly offered his services to the team at a cut-rate already, but Jaguar and its owner, Ford, are not thought to be enamoured with the Ulsterman.

There is certainly a queue of drivers waiting to take the oldest driver on the grid's place, and a young Briton like Button would be a dream come true for Jaguar's marketing machine. Whatever the case, Jaguar looks set to place its faith in young blood.
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