Irvine - We're not getting any better

EDDIE IRVINE said on Thursday that the performance of his Jaguar will be no better than it has been all season, despite talk of improvements for this weekend's Austrian race.

The Ulsterman denied suggestions that Milton Keynes-based Jaguar have made dramatic improvements to the R2, but said the team will jump a major hurdle in the coming weeks.

"I don't know who's told you there have been developments," Irvine told a news conference at the A1-Ring. "The car is the same car that hit the track at the beginning of the year.

"To be honest, it will be exactly the same car this weekend. Cosworth have made good steps forward with the engine but the team really hasn't made steps forward with the car and that's why we are consistently where we are.

"The next couple of races we have a big step coming and hopefully that will leapfrog us from where we are in amongst the next batch. We're not going to turn into a Ferrari overnight.

"We have a very significant step coming - well, we believe it's a very significant step and it should be interesting to see when that comes."

Irvine hailed the arrival of the race engineer Mark Ellis as a significant factor in the forthcoming improvement for the team, and labelled his efforts as "fantastic".

He added: "Mark Ellis is the new race engineer, he's more than a race engineer, he's nearly a technical director in a way.

"His title is racing engineer, but he's very much involved in trying to sort out the technical side of the team as well, and so far I think he's done a fantastic job.

"The team wasn't in the best state before he arrived and I think he's been firefighting on many fronts but he's done a fantastic job. I'm trying to help as much as I can and I do feel that things are going forward.

"It was just chipping away, as you always do, but I feel that in the last couple of races, since Mark has joined, we have chipped away a little bit faster than we've chipped before."

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