If the new McLaren MP4-18 is faster than its predecessor, which the team believes it will be, David Coulthard thinks the championship is within reach. The current modified MP4-17D is so far proving no slouch, with Coulthard winning the season...
If the new McLaren MP4-18 is faster than its predecessor, which the team believes it will be, David Coulthard thinks the championship is within reach. The current modified MP4-17D is so far proving no slouch, with Coulthard winning the season opener at Melbourne and Kimi Raikkonen claiming his maiden victory in Malaysia. Ferrari has had an unsettled start to the year but Coulthard won't write them off.McLaren. "Providing that the new car comes out and is quicker. If we don't get an improvement with the new car, I still think Ferrari have an advantage that will see them through the European season. But if we get there in good shape and the car is quick, then, yes, it is 'game on'."
The new McLaren is expected to be on the test track after the next race in Brazil but Ferrari's F2003-GA is likely to debut competitively before the MP4-18. Despite its shaky start, Ferrari is not rushing to get its own new car out and still intends to introduce it in the fourth round at Imola.
McLaren was not planning introducing the new chassis until later, although it depends on the performance. Managing director Martin Whitmarsh says only if there is big increase in speed will the team consider bringing the new car in for Imola.
"If the new car comes out of the box and is two seconds a lap quicker than the old one, and dead reliable, I'm sure we'll find a way of running it at Imola," he explained. "But life is not usually like that. The car we have now is not too shabby, so it's a risk/benefit analysis."
"It will inevitably be less reliable than the old model, so what will be the benefit of bringing it out early? If it's a tenth quicker, is it worth pushing to get it into service? The answer is no. But if it's half a second quicker, then it gets a bit more interesting. A second per lap and it gets urgent."