David Coulthard is hoping to take the fight to Michael Schumacher next year and believes McLaren's winter testing times show how much the car has improved. The 2002 chassis was not quite as competitive as the team hoped and combined with engine failures from Mercedes, McLaren was beaten into third in the Constructors' standings by Williams. The new MP4-18 is not scheduled to make an appearance until the championship reaches the European rounds, starting with the San Marino Grand Prix, but Coulthard is confident with the improvements to the current car.
"We've tried one or two new things on this car and we've seen the difference," he said in the British press. "I tend not to say too much about winter testing but I believe these times are significant. There is a distinct improvement to the package and the indications are that our new car will be another big step forward."
"I can't imagine Ferrari will be able to maintain their rate of improvement next year, so the championship really could close up," he said. "If that is the case then I'll be in as good a position as anybody to take on Michael. I beat him at Monaco last season, on a circuit where he was said to be virtually unstoppable, and I've beaten him on other occasions as well."
Ferrari may not start next season with its new chassis either -- the decision the team took to start 2002 with the previous year's car paid off and Ferrari may well take the same option in 2003. The F2003 is due to have its first run in February after which the team will decide which car to put on the grid in Australia.