McNish Defends Coulthard's Performances

Scot Allan McNish said today that his countryman David Coulthard is no "down and out" and does not need his McLaren team to tell him to improve his performance.

McNish Defends Coulthard's Performances

Scot Allan McNish said today that his countryman David Coulthard is no "down and out" and does not need his McLaren team to tell him to improve his performance.

Coulthard has slumped down the Championship table after winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix and he is now 26 points behind his Championship-chasing teammate Kimi Raikkonen. His team chiefs warned him last Monday that he must improve his form in qualifying for this weekend's French Grand Prix after a disappointing showing at the Nurburgring race last Sunday.

"David has been unfairly criticised," said Renault test driver McNish. "It is not as it appears - he has been unfortunate with reliability and it is simpler for the team to say 'buck your ideas up'. He has been around long enough to know his job.

"It was only the first race of the season when everyone saw David can win a race. Memories are short in Formula One but you don't go from a proven winner to the scrapheap that quickly."

Coulthard joined McLaren in 1996 and drove alongside Finn Mika Hakkinen for six years before Raikkonen arrived from Sauber with just one year's Formula One experience last season.

There have been rumours that Coulthard could be on his way out of McLaren because of his under-par performances and McLaren team principal Ron Dennis said last weekend that he is considering seven drivers for the role.

But McNish said: "In the last six years Ron has developed a McLaren mould. If you look around, who else fits the McLaren mould? Who would he pick up? I don't think there would be anyone better to fit the mould than David."

Finn Raikkonen, who is eight-and-a-half years Coulthard's junior, is second in the title battle, seven points behind Championship leader Michael Schumacher and 26 points ahead of Coulthard.

"I don't think anything is specifically wrong," added McNish. "The biggest single thing is from a perception point of view Kimi is second in the Championship and David is not. At the moment David is looking probable to fight for third in the Championship and if the car has better reliability and he has a better run I am sure he can do it."

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