French GP David Coulthard interview

Last weekend you finished on the podium yet again, this time in third place. Can you review the European GP for us? DC It started well on Friday, but then it got worse. We discovered that our qualifying and race performance slipped a bit...

Last weekend you finished on the podium yet again, this time in third place. Can you review the European GP for us?

DC It started well on Friday, but then it got worse. We discovered that our qualifying and race performance slipped a bit compared with Ferrari and of course Williams, with their engine and tyres proved to be quite a strong combination.

Your race strategy was to run with a heavy fuel at the start. Do you think it was the right decision?

DC The strategy was right given our grid position. Passing Barrichello before Turn 1 meant the strategy was wrong as that move meant we should have been on a two stop. But that's with hindsight, as you can't predict what is going to happen off the start line. You can only plan for your position and with launch control it's less likely that you will pass someone off the line than was the case in the past.

Finding the maximum performance from the car over the weekend, seems to be a problem this season. How has that happened?

DC I don't think there has been a big change in our performance over the season. If you look at Australia, I was around 4 or 5 on the grid and the same in Malaysia. Although we were picking up points, it was when the season got to Imola that we came good.. We had the right tyre, whereas Ferrari chose the wrong one. In Monaco, the special nature of the track meant we did the right combination of things and had a good qualifying there. We have tended to be stronger in the races than in qualifying, but apart from Imola and Monaco, we have not got the quickest cars for qualifying, but we have been consistent and had good strategies in the races. We recognise there is a lot of work to be done and the ball is firmly in Ferrari's court at the moment and we are going to try and return it next time it comes over the net! We want to make sure we can play a winner and have a good situation for the second half of the season. We cannot account for Williams, because they are on different! tyres and as I see it we have two world championships; one for Bridgestone runners and one for the others.

Ferrari and Williams seem to have had more speed recently. Will the West McLaren Mercedes team be more competitive this weekend?

DC It is difficult to say this early what will happen during the weekend. At the test here a few weeks ago, Williams were very quick and Ferrari have traditionally been better in qualifying here. I am not sure how we will perform. We won this race last year and we need to win it again this weekend to start clawing back the points deficit.

Are you frustrated by some of the problems you have had, which could be seen as bad luck?

DC The season has been a little bit frustrating. I have had great reliability and I thank the team for that, except in Canada, where I had a suspension problem. The electronic glitches had happened before the start, but the car ran reliably from the start to the flag. It's just a shame I had to start from the back. Not finishing just one race so far isn't bad. But we are paying for giving away some points. It might seem like cruel luck, but that's Formula 1. You just have to focus on the remaining races and try and get more out of the car.

These past two races have been back to back with no testing in between and very little time. How does that affect you?

DC It is very difficult to say whether it means we will have the same problems here as we did at the Nurburgring. It's a different track and altitude, which affects the car's performance and we have a different tyre here. Just because we haven't tested and were not competitive last week, does not mean we will not be competitive here. If we are more competitive then it will be down to the fact circumstances change from track to track.

Bridgestone has a new tyre here, but this is Michelin's home track. How do you think the tyre war will turn out here?

DC It's very difficult to know and that is one of the frustrations of a Thursday, as it's a finger in the air sort of day.

What are your thoughts on the way the championship is going so far?

DC I am not thinking about the championship at the mid-point of the season. Every GP is an opportunity to score ten points and every race dictates the result at the end of the year. So you have to take it one step at a time and not jump to the end. Everyone wants to know who is going to be champion. At the moment it looks strong for Michael and Ferrari and Williams are surging forward and some people are probably already etching Michael's name on another world title. But that's not what we want to happen. We are going to

try and improve our car to improve our situation and get back to the dominant force we were a couple of years ago.

What's your opinion of the Magny Cours track?

DC The track is quite demanding for qualifying as it has high speed corners. From a race point of view, it's very tricky because you tend to eat up the rear tyres a lot with wheelspin and oversteer. It is a difficult place to race so the enjoyment comes more from qualifying.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams