DC looking for three at Monaco

The sense that McLaren is just hanging on until its new car debuts in Germany at the end of June may not be as accurate a reflection of the team's attitude as that of the fans', impatient to know just how good the new car is. The Silver Arrows arrive at Monte Carlo in good shape with the MP4-17D, just one point behind Ferrari in the 2003 constructors' championship and with Kimi Raikkonen leading the drivers' championship

DC looking for three at Monaco

And yet the team has had to put back the debut of the MP4-18A, citing 'teething problems' as the reason (see this week's AUTOSPORT magazine for the full story). Marveling at the detail that has gone into the new car - as is the case with Ferrari's F2003-GA - it is perhaps not surprising that development and testing is taking so long. The question is whether or not Ferrari will be able to maximise its points scoring in the meantime?

David Coulthard is hoping to make it three wins at Monaco this year, new car or not, if Michael Schumacher does it he will have a record breaking six! The narrow circuit offers very little in the way of overtaking opportunities, so an outright speed advantage can be beaten by a sharp strategy. But mistakes are not usually forgiven.

"The tight Armco barriers and lack of run off areas means that judgement is based in millimetres rather than centimetres when racing in the Principality," says Coulthard. "There is no margin for error. But that just adds to the unique challenge this track offers.

"As I live in Monaco, the race is like a second home Grand Prix for me, and it is also the event that all drivers want to win, because of its level of global prestige. I have had the pleasure of securing two victories here, last year and in 2000, and hopefully I can make a hat-trick this coming weekend."

Team-mate Raikkonen is one of many who will be determined not to let DC have it all his own way - as David says, the 'global prestige' sharpens all the drivers' hunger for wins. The Finn is clearly quick enough but care, concentration and consistency are just as important on these mean streets.

"It's a demanding race weekend," admits Raikkonen. "The first few times you drive through the tunnel you tend to take it a bit easy so that you can get used to the change in the light, but after that it is the only real flat out section of the track.

"It's another circuit that lacks obvious overtaking chances, but although they are all more risky than at other tracks there are a couple. These include the first corner, although it is tighter than it appears, the chicane as you exit the tunnel and also perhaps under braking at Mirabeau as you blast downhill out of Casino.

"Also because we are racing on public roads there are some bumps in the surface, which can affect the performance of the car. I have not yet finished in the points at this race, which is something I am looking to achieve this year."

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