Coulthard aims for the podium

David Coulthard thinks that McLaren can score a podium finish in Austria, although he has conceded that the Ferrari F2003-GA is looking very strong around the A1-Ring

Coulthard aims for the podium

McLaren will need to maximise its score in Austria after a bad weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix, as the team tries to maintain a three-point advantage over Ferrari in the constructors' championship and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen defends a four point margin over Michael Schumacher in the drivers chase.

"Ferrari are going to be very strong," Coulthard conceded. "A lot of it depends on the compromise to the first pit stop - fuel level versus grid position, not getting caught in traffic, hopefully being reliable and keeping out of trouble."

Coulthard and Raikkonen were only eighth and ninth in today's first qualifying but the Scot said: "The reality is that we're leading both championships. It's not all doom and gloom. But single-lap qualifying isn't showing our true performance and people haven't had the opportunity in the last two races to really see that.

"Kimi was able to come through at Imola and our simulations from Barcelona suggested that we would have been just behind Ferrari and just ahead of Renault. We needed a finish to prove that."

Asked whether there was much room for strategy in Austria, Coulthard replied: "It all depends. A lot of the teams are trying different things. In Barcelona, BAR would have had to stop on lap 11 if it hadn't been for the Safety Car. Lap 11! That's incredible - purely a glory run.

"That's partly got to be to put the car up there for sponsors, partly to put a bit of pressure on Jacques; bang his salary down for next year. I cannot believe that the team made that decision based on pure strategy - the quickest way to get their car to the end of the grand prix. Those are the facts."

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