Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
Coulthard Delights Mercedes

Sunday April 23rd, 2000

By Alan Baldwin

David Coulthard had barely parked his McLaren after winning his home British Formula One Grand Prix when a telephone was thrust into his hand.

As he walked to the podium from the parc ferme, he heard the voice of a Mercedes director eager to congratulate the Scot for securing the first victory of the season for the Mercedes-powered team.

"Obviously it was very important for Mercedes to get a win again after the first three races being lost. He was very happy."

Last season McLaren won the drivers' title with Finland's Mika Hakkinen retaining the championship but lost the constructors' crown to Ferrari. They then made a disastrous start to the new millennium with neither driver finishing in Australia.

Coulthard was disqualified in Brazil after finishing second when his car failed a post-race technical inspection.

The team's first points came at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola this month when Hakkinen finished second and Coulthard third.

Preparing To Cry

McLaren also suffered a spate of mechanical failures and bad luck in 1999 and Coulthard revealed how much the lack of the team's much-vaunted reliability had begun to play on the drivers' nerves.

"I had such a long time to think about it while I was out there," he said of his second successive win at Silverstone. "I developed a small gearbox problem and I was preparing to cry in the car as I thought 'I don't need this.' But thankfully it held together."

Coulthard's victory last year was somewhat hollow as it came after Michael Schumacher crashed out at high speed and broke his leg and after Hakkinen then went out when a wheel worked loose.

To many it was an inherited victory but there was no question over Sunday's triumph, with Coulthard slipping past early leader Rubens Barrichello with a fine overtaking manoeuvre.

The Scot later compared it one of motor racing's classic overtaking manoeuvres -- Briton Nigel Mansell's passing of Brazilian Nelson Piquet at the 1987 British Grand Prix -- and confessed that he had even been thinking about it before he passed his own Brazilian rival.

Unhappy Hakkinen, Money and Moves

Hakkinen, who said he had problems with the set-up of his car, was then shown a board telling him to take it easy for the remaining few laps as he began to reel in Coulthard.

Asked whether he would have been allowed to overtake Coulthard, the unhappy-looking Finn paused and then replied. "Maybe."

Pressed on whether there were any team orders, Hakkinen said: "I just said maybe. Let's leave it there."

Paddock rumours have suggested that McLaren have had contacts with Candian Jacques Villeneuve for next season and that Coulthard could trade places with the former world champion at the BAR team.

Neither team has commented officially on the rumour mill but Coulthard, who joined McLaren from Williams and has been overshadowed by Hakkinen in his five years at the team, was asked after the win where it left him.

"I know what my contractual position is, I'm happy with that obviously I wouldn't have signed it," he replied.

"It's inevitable that the team are always going to look at who is available. I don't have a problem with that because obviously I need to look at what's available to me as well.

"If I win grands prix then of course my market value goes up and I get some more pennies to spend at the end of the year. If I don't it drops and then I look elsewhere. It's straightforward. There's no magic in it."

Previous  |  News Index  |  Next  ]

© 2001 Reuters Limited. Click for restrictions
Copyright & Terms