British GP Coulthard hopes for a three-peat

British Three-Peat Would Help Coulthard'S Title Chances SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - David Coulthard hopes that recent history will repeat itself July 15 at the British Grand Prix. Coulthard won the British Grand Prix...

British Three-Peat Would Help Coulthard'S Title Chances

SILVERSTONE, Great Britain, Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - David Coulthard hopes that recent history will repeat itself July 15 at the British Grand Prix.

Coulthard won the British Grand Prix in 1999 and 2000, and a win in this year's event in his West McLaren-Mercedes would be a boost to his championship hopes. Coulthard is second in the points after 10 of 17 races in this year's FIA Formula One World Championship that includes the SAP United States Grand Prix on Sept. 30 at Indianapolis. Ferrari's Michael Schumacher leads the standings with 78 points while Coulthard has 47.

"It is going to take a couple of wins with him (Schumacher) not finishing to turn that around," Coulthard said of the points gap. "It is not something that is particularly good, and it is not something that we are happy with because we know that we have given away points on technical matters rather than not being quick enough. And that is frustrating and it is something we need to overcome.

But there have been bigger points differences in other championship years, and drivers have been able to come back from it, so I am not going to worry about it until it gets to a point where I can't claw it back."

Coulthard said it is going to take talent, luck, strategy, better chassis development than McLaren's rivals and more to close in on Ferrari.

"It's a combination of all those factors," he said. "Luck plays a part some times; reliability is important. From the development point of view, we have taken steps forward and improved the car a lot since the first race. But it still looks like Ferrari has a small advantage when it comes to qualifying. We are much more than a match for them and probably better than them in certain areas in race conditions."

As Coulthard said, the McLaren-Mercedes team has had more technical failures this season than Ferrari. "We are at the leading edge of the formula," he said, "so our mistakes and our problems are highlighted, but it's not like other teams don't have problems. It is just costing us points at the moment."

This year McLaren-Mercedes and Coulthard have had to fight not one Schumacher but two, as Ralf Schumacher has won two Grands Prix in the Williams-BMW while Michael Schumacher has won six Grands Prix in his Ferrari.

"I have a great deal of respect for both brothers," Coulthard said. "Ralf is showing what he is capable of doing this year with his two victories.

"But as I said before, we have two different formulas this season: You have the Bridgestone formula and the Michelin formula. And it's very difficult to judge sometimes how competitive we at McLaren-Mercedes are versus Williams-BMW because of the tire issue. We know where we are with Ferrari because we run the same tire (Bridgestone.) Maybe the Michelin is a fantastic tire, and he (Ralf) is doing an OK job, or maybe it is not such a good tire, and he is the best guy out there."

It has always been the policy at McLaren to give its drivers equal equipment and an equal chance at winning races. Team orders are rare at McLaren, which generally allows both drivers to go for a win even if one is much higher in the points standings. Although Coulthard's teammate, Mika Hakkinen, only has nine points, Coulthard is not looking for or expecting any favors. Nor is he worrying about the issue of team orders.

"It is not a decision that I make," Coulthard said. "It's up to (McLaren director) Ron (Dennis) and (Mercedes racing director) Norbert (Haug), and they are aware of the benefits of team orders. So I just channel my energies to things I can influence, which is driving the car and working with the engineers. It would be unreasonable to expect Mika to do something to disadvantage himself just out of the kindness of his heart.

"If and when such a situation were to occur, it would be a team instruction. It is not something I would get involved in because they are well aware of the situation without me having to point it out to them. They will do what they think is right. They know the math, and they know what to do. I have been in the situation before where I have helped Mika, and it is not a big decision. When the time is right, it naturally happens."

Coulthard has twice won his home Grand Prix at Silverstone, and he has won two races this season. Now he is aiming to make that three wins in both categories.

"Winning two consecutive Grands Prix at Silverstone has to be one of the highlights of my career," he said, "and I am aiming to continue this form at the 2001 race. There is always a fantastic atmosphere at the race, the amazing support that the West McLaren-Mercedes team gets from the home fans definitely acts as a motivational force."

-IMS-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams