Ferrari has moved swiftly to quash paddock rumour that drivers Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine have fallen out over the Irishman's increased competitiveness.

Stories doing the rounds suggest that Schumacher is feeling threatened by Irvine's rise in popularity and potential, and has fallen out with the Irishman over his outspoken comments on team orders. Ferrari team boss Jean Todt says that there is no truth in the rumours, however, and claims that the relationship between his charges is a good as ever.

"I would not say that the relationship between our drivers has changed," he said, "It has been good for four seasons now, and is still excellent. Michael is pleased to Eddie being competitive, because it means that their teamwork is good, but Eddie's job is the same as it ever was."

The Italian national newspapers appear to have performed an about-turn on the Irishman, reporting his heightened popularity, as opposed to their usual campaign to oust him from the team. Irvine has been linked with Jordan in the last month, and speculation that he may be about to desert the Scuderia as replacement for Damon Hill is rife.



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