Originally Posted by guyfo
I watched that a while back, didnt really get that impression, was there not one bit where he said schumacher was basically on another level.
Irvine said something along the lines of: schumacher could drive an unbalanced bad car better than anyone, he was a natural driver and if you gave him a truck he could get it to the front, michael had the ability to drive a car centimeter by centimeter where as I could drive meter by meter.
He said when he had a good car that wasnt a handfull irvine was on the pace with michael, 1999 would be fair proof that he was a decent driver.
Having a bad attitude is what made Irvine such a memorable driver in the first place!
He was wrong, Schumacher still comfortably outperformed Irvine in 1999, that championship was shaping up for another Schumacher v Hakkinen battle until Schumacher broke his leg.
Irvine did turn in a few excellent performances while Schumacher was out, but the main reason he brought himself into the title race was he was very consistent, he finished in the points 14 or 15 times (in 16 races), while Hakkinen suffered three or four mechanical failures and made two uncharacteristic errors while comfortably leading the San Marino and Italian Grand Prix.
Schumacher came back for the last two races, he totally controlled the Malaysian Grand Prix, held up the McLarens and handed the victory on a plate to Irvine, Schumacher couldn't repeat that feat at Suzuka, Hakkinen always had 4 or 5 seconds of a buffer.
It would have been a bit of a travesty had Irvine won that title, he wasn't good enough to go out and win the title on his own in the end, he needed Schumacher to go out and do the hard work for him when it mattered most at the business end of the championship.
I did like him though, a good personality and a decent driver, but not world champion material, and certainly not a legend!