DC: We're much closer to Williams and Ferrari

David Coulthard says McLaren has made up ground on rivals Ferrari and Williams-BMW in the last week, but is unsure if the advances are enough to take victory in Sunday's French Grand Prix

DC: We're much closer to Williams and Ferrari

The Scot put in a last lap flier to snatch third place behind brothers Ralf and Michael from his team mate Mika Hakkinen. Coulthard was less than a fifth of a second behind both Schumachers - a major leap from his third row start in the European Grand Prix in Germany last weekend - and knows he desperately needs to notch up a 10-point win to close the gap on Schumacher senior, who leads him by 24 points.

"We have to be encouraged because we are much closer than we were at the last race, and much closer than we have been in qualifying in some of the recent races, Monaco aside," said Coulthard. "But in truth we don't know and we'll find out in the race."

Coulthard says the comparative strength of the Michelin tyres used by BMW-Williams are an unquantifiable variable, but he expects his Bridgestone-shod McLaren will be stronger in Sunday's race than in qualifying.

"It is difficult to know exactly where we stand because Williams are on different tyre, and we don't know what to expect. But the race is a completely different issue than qualifying. We have not been particularly strong in qualifying at a couple of circuits, but in the races we have been a bit stronger."

Coulthard took a relatively lucky third place at the Nurburgring last Sunday, and has not won a Grand Prix since Austria six weeks ago, but he's confident his team can overcome the problems that have seen Williams and Ferrari take the limelight from McLaren.

"We will work through it," added Coulthard. "It's not like in 1994/5, for example, when the team was in the first year of new projects with Peugeot and McLaren and was really at rock bottom. We have ongoing relationships with our engine partner and all areas of key input to the chassis.

"There is a slight cross-over with the (new) Paragon (technical centre) wind-tunnel, which needs a whole series of lengthy tests to calibrate properly. Paragon takes time and resources, but will be an improvement when everything is finished."

And he insisted the team's supposed slump in form is not as bad as it appears to others.

"We've stayed at the same level as others have improved," said Coulthard. "Also, the tyres have changed. As the circuits get warmer at this time of year, a tyre that worked in cooler European races doesn't work so well. Last weekend at the Nurburgring, for example, was the first time we have had an oversteering car.

"You can drive around understeer to a certain extent. But when the car's out of balance and you can't bring it back, it's tough. And you don't get much time to sort it out."

shares
comments
Surprised Hakkinen Happy with McLaren Pace
Previous article

Surprised Hakkinen Happy with McLaren Pace

Next article

Ralf Ready to Take Revenge on Michael

Ralf Ready to Take Revenge on Michael
Load comments
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021