'Neweygate' didn't scupper DC's title

McLaren design ace Adrian Newey says that his 'on-off' transfer saga earlier in the summer did not play a negative part in David Coulthard's fading world title challenge

'Neweygate' didn't scupper DC's title

Newey was on the brink of cementing a deal to join Jaguar Racing when his existing McLaren contract ended in August 2002, but was then persuaded to stay with the Woking-based team for a further three years. Several days of high-profile legal to-ing and fro-ing followed until Jaguar was placated.

Immediately before 'Neweygate' broke in the aftermath of the Monaco Grand Prix, Coulthard was just eight points behind Ferrari's Michael Schumacher. But going into this weekend's German GP, the Scot is now 37 points Schumacher.

Critics have pointed to McLaren's relative lack of qualifying pace compared to Ferrari in recent races, and to the number of mechanical and systems failures suffered by the team this year. Newey, however, says the contractual episode did not cause him to take his eye off the ball, despite its timescale broadly coinciding with a slowing of Coulthard's title momentum.

"People who may have assumed that I was anything less than completely focussed on McLaren have misunderstood the situation," Newey told Autosport. "I spent very little time thinking about some of the things that were being said and written and I remain completely dedicated to the engineering situation at McLaren, even if it did not appear that way from the outside."

With only six races and 60 points still to play for, a strong showing from Schumacher at his home race in Hockenheim will make DC's title chase little more than academic. But Newey says the uphill task faced by the team will not lessen its focus.

"The championship is something we're just going to have to take race by race now," he said. "With the car, we're going to have to continue with our process of continual general development. There's no single area which needs addressing.

"The situation is complicated by Williams-BMW, of course," he added, "because they're clearly going to be strong at tracks like Hockenheim."

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