JUNE 26, 2000

Herbert on the war path

OHNNY HERBERT knows that his Formula 1 career is coming to an end and he has nothing to lose - except his job with Jaguar Racing.

JOHNNY HERBERT knows that his Formula 1 career is coming to an end and he has nothing to lose - except his job with JaguarÊRacing. Clearly he does not rate this role very highly at the moment because last week he launched a scathing attack on the team. Herbert may have been hoping that the criticism would have a positive effect on the team but it is more likely that he will get into trouble with the management and he could even be replaced by test driver Luciano Burti, although it is hard to see why the youngster would do a better job than Herbert.

"All we seem to do this year is get on top of engine reliability problems," Herbert was quoting as saying, " but we are still having everything else break. There has been almost no development. There have been no staff changes since last year - really this team is still Stewart Grand Prix. Both Jackie and Paul have gone, but that's it. It's still a small team and if you look at Stewart's history, it was all crap apart from last year, when they lucked into a good car."

Herbert scored the Stewart team's only Grand Prix victory at last year's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring but circumstances were largely responsible for that success and did not warrant the raising of expectations which have accompanied the takeover of Stewart by Jaguar. The company has also added to the problem by portraying the team as a more competitive and professional organization than it actually is.

Herbert is particularly frustrated because he has been matching the highly-paid Eddie Irvine in recent weeks but his car rarely gets to the finish of a race.

Dumping Herbert would be a radical move for the team but there are some within the team who feel that it might be a good idea as a new driver might show better than Eddie Irvine has been in recent events which would then increase the pressure on Irvine to perform. The Ulsterman was signed from Ferrari in the middle of last year on a huge three-year contract but has yet to show the kind of performance which Jaguar appears to have expected from him. Whether this is Eddie's fault is another issue because he too has been suffering from constant mechanical problems.