"We had to sign de la Rosa" - Burti

JAGUAR driver Luciano Burti has said that he will fight team-mate Eddie Irvine all the way in the battle to partner Pedro de la Rosa next season.

Burti said that he and Ulsterman Irvine agreed with the Milton Keynes-based team's decision to sign Spaniard De la Rosa, despite the fact that one of them will lose their seat at the end of the year.

Brazilian Burti said: "It is not normal to contract a driver so soon but Jaguar had to do it. In Formula One at the moment you need a good test program and although the team had Tomas Scheckter he is not very experienced.

"De la Rosa had an offer from Prost and the only way Jaguar could persuade him to join them was to offer him a race seat in 2002. It may seem rash, but from the team point of view it is a good structure. Both Eddie and myself agreed.

"I will do everything to convince the team that I am the best choice (to stay on in 2002). Whether I stay or not will depend on the results. If I don't do a good job then I don't deserve to be in Formula One."

Although Irvine's contract doesn't run out until the end of next season, Burti believes he still has a good chance to stake his claim for a full-time seat in 2002.

"Pedro has a contract for 2002 and the other driver is not decided yet," he said. "It could be Eddie or it could be me. Eddie is the number one driver in the team so his chances are greater than mine.

"I will do everything I can to prove that I deserve my place in Formula One. I know my future in F1 is guaranteed because where there were rumors about me being dropped there seemed to be a conflict, but now there is no conflict.

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