Coulthard Risks being Cast in Supporting Role

McLaren's David Coulthard must revive his fast-fading Formula One title hopes within the next few races to avoid being cast in a supporting role to Kimi Raikkonen.

Coulthard Risks being Cast in Supporting Role

McLaren's David Coulthard must revive his fast-fading Formula One title hopes within the next few races to avoid being cast in a supporting role to Kimi Raikkonen.

"We have the ability in our drivers' contracts to call 'team orders' but I think it's a bit too early at the moment," McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said after Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.

"I think we're a few races away yet from making that decision."

Coulthard retired with a gearbox problem in Montreal, leaving the Scot seventh in the standings and 29 points adrift of Ferrari's World Champion Michael Schumacher. Finland's Raikkonen is three points behind the German, with eight races remaining.

Team orders during a race are now banned after Ferrari caused global outrage with their blatant manipulation of last year's Austrian Grand Prix in favour of Schumacher. But Whitmarsh said there were internal procedures to give priority to whichever driver had the best chance of winning the Championship.

"They're not allowed during a race if they prejudice the outcome of the race but there's various things such as how you allocate the spare car, how you operate the team in preparing for the race which is quite legitimate," he said.

"When you talk about a team order it is a broader subject than that which occurs in the event itself."

Team's Decision

Coulthard said he would accept the team's decision when and if the time came.

"You've always got to take a sensible pill on these things," he said. "If it's getting to the point where I'm not mathematically in with a chance then that is the team's right. I would never swim against the tide on that.

"Yes, I'm out there as an individual trying to do the best I can but I'm supported by a team and I have to respect that."

The 32-year-old Scot, overall runner-up to Schumacher in 2001, won the opening race in Australia but the title is now a distant dream.

"It's getting further away but each race is what it is and you've got to just try and get the maximum out of it," Coulthard said. "A lot can change, there's still a lot of points left.

"We all know it's going to be incredibly difficult to pull something like that back but it's not a mathematical impossibility so you have to keep on doing the job."

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