Coulthard: I'll be stronger in 2001

World Championship 'bronze medallist' David Coulthard has vowed to eradicate his remaining weaknesses and break the Schumacher/Hakkinen title stranglehold next season

Coulthard: I'll be stronger in 2001

Coulthard won three Grands Prix en route to third in the points for the third time in his Formula 1 career, behind Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and his McLaren team mate Mika Hakkinen. But the Scot says he knows the areas in which he can improve and will start the 2001 season a more complete driver.

"I know there are still some weaknesses in my package," he said, "but I'm going to work on them, and I'm going to work hard. I'm not prepared to take the easy option and take a pay day and take a walk down the pit lane, giving it 'Billy Big Balls' pretending I'm number one. I want to earn that by beating a world champion in one of the best cars.

"I think that my career is still on the up," he added. "I don't believe I've levelled out and I think I've shown that I can race wheel-to-wheel with the other hard men of motorsport."

Coulthard has pin-pointed qualifying and unforced errors as two key areas still to work on. The McLaren driver's highest-profile unforced error was his jump start in the United States Grand Prix.

"I'm sure it's because you're not at boiling temperature, you're not at race speed, and that's why I'm slightly off guard and I make mistakes," he said. "I have to work at myself mentally to make sure that I have a complete plan that doesn't allow me to get into those areas where I make mistakes."

Coulthard also says that he and the McLaren squad should work on improving their race strategy.

"We were pretty poor in the second half of the season, and I'm part of that process," he explained. "Spa - too late; Hockenheim - too late; Hungary - too early... You just can't afford to make those sort of calls if you're going to get those extra two points or extra four points that you need to win a championship."

Coulthard's year moved from the back pages of the newspapers to the front when he and girlfriend Heidi were involved in a plane crash that killed their two pilots. Just days later, he finished second in the Spanish GP and followed that up with victory in Monaco.

"I think when you consider all the things that happened this year, it's been a helluva year, a most unusual year," he mused. "To be able to come through the things I've come through and still be able to perform at a high level shows that I've got the strength to want to go out there and fight and to want to improve. And I believe I can."

For full David Coulthard Q&A, click here.


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