Brazil: It's McLaren to beat, says Coulthard

David Coulthard says McLaren have solved the problem that sidelined both their cars in Australia

Brazil: It's McLaren to beat, says Coulthard

And he insisted they will be the team to beat in both qualifying and Sunday's second round of the world championship.

The Scot, who started last year's race from the front row but is yet to win in six visits to Sao Paulo, batted aside speculation Ferrari's 1-2 finish in Melbourne makes them the leader of the pack.

Both McLarens retired for the same reason while leading with faulty seals on the pneumatic valve system. "Olivier [Panis] did a race distance in testing at Silverstone last week and the problem appears to be fixed," said Coulthard.

"It could well be just that the slow laps behind the safety car sent the temperatures over the top in Melbourne."

Despite the question mark over the car's reliability Coulthard said he was confident he and teammate Mika Hakkinen could annex the entire front row on Saturday at Interlagos.

"I can see a repeat of Melbourne qualifying with both McLarens on the front row," he said.

"We have the potential to be on the front row and win the race. You can't ask for any more than that."

"There has been a lot of speculation about what might or might not have happened but the facts were that we were on the front row in qualifying and were leading the race when the cars failed, so we have reason to feel comfortable with the performance.

"We weren't beaten fair and square in the race because we dropped out. You have to give Ferrari credit because they won when we dropped out and that's our mistake.

"But it means we come here believing we are competitive and still have a chance.

"Everything that Michael said after winning in Brazil has to be gamesmanship. He can't know what was going to happen in the race anymore than we did.

"He's just trying to show an absolute belief in his team and his car. Is he trying to convince himself or other people? It won't have any effect on us."

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