- The Hungarian Grand Prix 1995
My Favourite Race - Eddie Irvine
Where: The Hungarian Grand Prix 1995 - Hungaroring
When: August 13, 1995
The 1995 Hungarian Grand Prix will perhaps be best remembered for a titanic battle between Damon Hill's Williams and Michael Schumacher's Benetton but for then Jordan driver Eddie Irvine, it marked a race which he describes as the most fun of his career.
"The race I had the most fun in was Hungary in my last year racing for Jordan," recalls Irvine. "I loved racing for Eddie's team and was really on it that day. Everything was going my way until my car broke down with only 7 laps to go.
"I qualified 7th but dropped a place after Martin Brundle passed me early on. Mika Hakkinen's early retirement meant I quickly gained back the place and was all over the back of Jean Alesi's Ferrari with Jonny Herbert's Benetton behind me.
"By around lap 50 or so I was up to sixth after the second round of stops and Alesi's retirement and probably would have finished fifth but for my mechanical problem. I always loved driving at the Hungaroring which, like Monaco, was a really fun circuit to drive because you were always doing something. There were never moments you could relax like on circuits with long straights such as Monza and Hockenheim."
Mention of Eddie's racing days at Jordan would lead most Formula 1 fans to think of his infamous clash with Ayrton Senna after his debut grand prix at Suzuka in 1993, when he had the audacity to unlap himself from the Brazilian because he was 'holding him up' during his battle with Damon Hill. Senna then famously sought out Irvine in the Jordan motorhome and lamped the cheeky young Ulsterman for his impertinence. For Irvine, however, the incident was merely a forgettable sideshow of a forgettable race.
"It was kind of embarrassing actually. To go round the first corner and overtake four guys on my debut was funny but the race didn't go too well because I was having real problems with my back. I couldn't sit comfortably in the car and was in agony. I would have had to retire if it hadn't rained, to be honest. The team totally screwed up the pit stop and then there was the Senna incident. I remember that I had a chuckle to myself when I unlapped him but that was about as funny as it got.
"The first forty seconds were great but the rest of it was forgettable. I qualified eighth and was running fourth after the first couple of corners, so to overtake Schumacher and three other guys at the start was the highlight!"
One would justifiably assume that one of Irvine's four race victories that nearly netted him the world drivers' championship in 1999, particularly his maiden win in Australia, would come much closer to being a career highlight.
"Actually, my first win in Australia was just an uneventful plod to the finish because there was nobody left in the race! It was great to win, of course, but not the most fun race I have been involved in."
What other answer would you have expected from one of Formula One's most complex and unpredictable characters?