MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2000) -- Until this year, if you had looked in the dictionary under "team player," you might have found a photograph of racing driver David Coulthard. Teammate to two-time defending Formula One Drivers' Champion Mika...
MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2000) -- Until this year, if you had looked in the dictionary under "team player," you might have found a photograph of racing driver David Coulthard. Teammate to two-time defending Formula One Drivers' Champion Mika Hakkinen since 1996, Coulthard had earned 21 podium finishes, including 6 victories, heading into the 2000 season. His nine podium appearances in 1998 alone helped the West McLaren Mercedes team achieve the coveted Constructors' Championship to go along with Hakkinen's driving title. But achieving superstar status apart from his teammate was elusive. It was as though Coulthard were Scottie Pippen to Hakkinen's Michael Jordan.
In the first half of the 17-race season, Coulthard reeled off triumphant performances at the British Grand Prix, the legendary Grand Prix of Monaco and the French Grand Prix. He put in an especially gritty performance to earn second-place at Barcelona, Spain, despite fracturing his ribs just days earlier in the crash of a private jet that killed the plane's two pilots. With three races remaining in the season, Coulthard is third in the drivers' championship standings, and the West McLaren Mercedes team tops the Constructors' Championship points standings. Some observers believe the plane crash may have been the turning point for the young Scotsman in terms of his confidence and determination.
"There is no way that you can go through that and just take it in stride," Coulthard said. "I have a better sense of proportion now, and a better idea of what to do with my life. I'm not here to ease Mika's championship challenge. I'm here for myself."
With three victories and a total of nine podium finishes in the first 14 races of the season, Coulthard is backing up those words with his on-track deeds. The West McLaren Mercedes team recently announced Coulthard has re-signed with the team through 2001.
"Continuity is a huge advantage in this highly competitive field, and to be moving into my sixth season with the team is extremely beneficial for my future," Coulthard said. "To know and understand the people you are working with means that you can focus on the fundamental task of winning races. Naturally, I am pleased to be staying with a championship-winning team and I am concentrating on making the next championship victory my own."
"We have never lost our belief in David, and he has shown that he was worth the trust," said Norbert Haug, vice president, motorsport, DaimlerChrysler AG. "His victory at Monaco was particularly satisfying. I will never forget the way he came out of Monaco's tunnel backwards in 1997, or how miserable he felt after that race. I promised him then that one day he would win at Monaco."
With the 2000 Formula One World Championship hanging in the balance, it appears that Coulthard has moved his game to a higher level and is prepared for a fight to the finish.
Coulthard, Hakkinen and the West McLaren Mercedes team will compete in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 24.