DC second best to Mika, says Watson

Former McLaren driver and five-time Grand Prix winner John Watson says Mika Hakkinen's dominant British Grand Prix win at Silverstone shows that he is still the clear number one at McLaren, not his world championship contender team mate David Coulthard

DC second best to Mika, says Watson

Before his British win, Hakkinen had scored just nine points this year and the Finn's slump in form meant David Coulthard had emerged as the only serious threat to Ferrari rival Michael Schumacher in the world championship.

However Coulthard's challenge has faltered in recent races due to reliability problems in Canada, a stop-go penalty in France and an accident with Jarno Trulli at Silverstone. And Hakkinen's apparent return to form, according to Watson, highlights Coulthard's shortcomings as a number one.

"When Mika performs like he did at Silverstone, he is clearly McLaren's better bet to take on Michael [Schumacher]," Watson told British newspaper The Sunday Mirror. "But Ron [Dennis, McLaren team boss] needs Mika to do it all the time and not once in a blue moon.

"The problem for Ron is he still can't be sure about David. Whether you would consider him a genuine number one is highly questionable."

Coulthard matched Hakkinen for pace for most of the weekend at Silverstone and his race hopes were dashed by a first corner tangle with Trulli, which caused the suspension on his McLaren to fail on the next lap.

Despite words from Coulthard to the contrary, Watson also says that he does not expect DC to be helped in his championship challenge by Hakkinen, even though the double world champ cannot win the title himself this year.

"I'm not convinced Mika would have let David have the win [at Silverstone]," he said, "even though David seems to think he would have. I reckon Mika would have got so far ahead of David there would have been no way he was going to give up his win."

Doubts over whether Hakkinen is to continue in F1 were rebuked by a somewhat ambiguous team statement last weekend claiming that it is not a case of whether the Finn will stay on at McLaren, but for how long. The 32-year-old is thought to want a two-year deal for a fixed price, rather than the performance related package he is believed to have been offered.

"I can understand Mika not wanting any doubts as to whether he has another two years at McLaren," said Watson. "But it's not good for Ron if Mika is going to rise to the occasion only when circumstances suit him."

Coulthard missed a four-day test at Monza last week due to an upset stomach leaving the work to Hakkinen and McLaren test driver Alex Wurz. He is expected to be back fighting fit for this weekend's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

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