Coulthard: Tyre war will change Formula 1

David Coulthard kicked off his campaign to win next year's World Championship at Jerez in Spain today - and warned the tyre war between Bridgestone and Michelin will change the face of Formula 1

Coulthard: Tyre war will change Formula 1

Coulthard is certain next year's championship will be transformed with Michelin's return to the category. He feels a full-blown tyre war could give some of Formula 1's lesser lights a chance of toppling the McLaren/Ferrari stranglehold.

"What we have again is two Formula 1s," he said. "You've got the Michelin Formula 1 and you've got the Bridgestone Formula 1. What it makes it difficult to do is judge who is quick and who is not. Last year, you saw the relative performances of the different cars and people at the back always said the tyres were developed for us. Well, of course they are, and essentially a tyre is a tyre, but if you weren't developing the tyre you would just be developing the car, so that argument for the guys at the back is not as relevant as they think. Now we have got the tyre war, we might have races where Benetton, Williams and Jaguar might just be the fastest cars on the track. It might be a different Formula 1."

The 29-year-old Scot, who finished third in this year's points standings, hit the track for the first time since the FIA testing ban ended, and believes he can go two places better next season as McLaren bids to regain its F1 crown.

"The 2001 championship starts here, that is the reality of it," he added. "All the developments you work on for the new car, with all the planning for Australia. Had I won the championship I would probably have wanted longer away from the car, but this is how you improve. I am up against experienced guys like Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen who have much more experience in the car than I have, and that is something you cannot buy. I am not saying that all this testing will make me quicker, but the extra knowledge and feeling for the car should help."

Coulthard, who tested on his own today, completed about 30 laps of Jerez. A suspected oil leak, which caused the car to smoke in the morning, was the only minor problem he encountered.

Although Coulthard was alone in Spain, Ferrari's test driver Luca Badoer was in action at Fiorano in Italy on Monday. He tested components and electronics for the Prancing Horse's 2001 car and completed 42 laps. On Tuesday, Badoer and Rubens Barrichello will join the big test at Jerez.

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