Roll On 2004, Says Coulthard

David Coulthard believes he can win the Formula One world title with McLaren after being confirmed for a ninth successive season.

Roll On 2004, Says Coulthard

David Coulthard believes he can win the Formula One world title with McLaren after being confirmed for a ninth successive season.

"I think in many ways I have more optimism and excitement for the start of next year than I had this year," the 32-year-old Briton told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"We knew we were starting with the 17 (2002 car) and it was always going to be that we were starting with an updated old car," he said. "You might just have to write that British World Championship headline that you have been saving up for years and years."

Coulthard was Championship runner-up to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in 2001 and has been the top ranked British driver since 2000. The last British driver to win the World Championship was Damon Hill in 1996.

But this year has been his worst since he joined McLaren from Williams in 1996. He is seventh overall and 30 points adrift of leader Schumacher while teammate Kimi Raikkonen is third overall.

McLaren started the season with a development of last year's MP4-17 car and their new MP4-18 has yet to be raced and may never hit the track in anger.

"I really feel very positive about next season because the 18 is showing significant steps forward. By the time we race it it will be the 19 and I really think McLaren will take a big step forward next year."

Speculation

Coulthard denied he had been affected by speculation that he was in danger of losing his place, with Williams' Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya seen as McLaren's prime target.

"Every year is important but as you journey through a career I guess the importance grows in that it is not something I am going to be able to do for an eternity," said Coulthard contemplating his future.

"There is always a pressure to get the job done and whether you are at the beginning of your career on a one-year contract or whether you are on a multi-year contract in the middle of your career, it doesn't actually change a great deal.

"You have to perform and if there is a better option available then the chances are they will be in the car. If there isn't then it gives you an opportunity to build again. I still think what I bring to the team is recognised as a value, otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation."

Coulthard said his position had been clear for some time and he remained in the middle of a multi-year contract.

"Contracts can be extended, can be null and void depending on performance and that is the same for the drivers as it is for the teams," he added.

"Every year there are rumours...throughout my whole career at McLaren there has been speculation of Damon coming, Jacques (Villeneuve) coming, Eddie (Irvine) coming, everyone's coming.

"But at the end of the day I am here and I still believe in my potential," he said.

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