Too early for McLaren team orders

Too early for McLaren team orders

Kimi Raikkonen is spearheading McLaren's title challenge in 2003 while teammate David Coulthard lags behind, but for the moment it's too early for the situation of the Scot being called on to support his young counterpart to arise. Coulthard is...

Kimi Raikkonen is spearheading McLaren's title challenge in 2003 while teammate David Coulthard lags behind, but for the moment it's too early for the situation of the Scot being called on to support his young counterpart to arise. Coulthard is now seventh in the standings, 29 points behind new leader Michael Schumacher. Raikkonen is just three points adrift of the German.

David Coulthard.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Although team orders that effect the outcome of a race are now banned, there are other ways things can be arranged within the driver hierarchy. "We have the ability in our drivers' contracts to call 'team orders' but I think it's a bit too early at the moment," McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said after the Canadian GP, according to Reuters.

"They're not allowed during a race if they prejudice the outcome of the race but there's various things such as how you allocate the spare car, how you operate the team in preparing for the race which is quite legitimate. When you talk about a team order it is a broader subject than that which occurs in the event itself."

Coulthard's title hopes took a blow in Canada when he retired from the race with a gearbox problem and although he still has a chance to get back in the fight, he would support Raikkonen if the situation arose in the future.

"You've always got to take a sensible pill on these things," he said. "If it's getting to the point where I'm not mathematically in with a chance then that is the team's right. I would never swim against the tide on that. Yes, I'm out there as an individual trying to do the best I can but I'm supported by a team and I have to respect that."

Coulthard won the first race of the season in Australia but has had an unsettled time since, with no more top-three results. Raikkonen, by comparison, has only had one non-finish and has been on the podium six times. Obvioulsy David is not about to compromise his chances until it's mathematically impossible for him to win the title, but his hopes must be dwindling.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams McLaren