Villeneuve Defends Coulthard's Performances

Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has come to the defence of David Coulthard - and backed him to stay at McLaren and outperform Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the future.

Villeneuve Defends Coulthard's Performances

Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has come to the defence of David Coulthard - and backed him to stay at McLaren and outperform Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the future.

Villeneuve, who replaced Coulthard at Williams in 1996 when the Scot joined McLaren, believes Coulthard has simply been unlucky this year and could easily match his highly-rated teammate Raikkonen.

Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone suggested on Friday that Coulthard move to a new team after he slowly slumped down the table to seventh following his victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

But Villeneuve, who has himself endured a lack of fortune this year after finishing just three of the nine Grands Prix, said: "I think he has been unlucky this year. If you look at it, Kimi has made some (big) mistakes and David has hardly made any mistakes. In the first part of the season he was better and I think he will be good again in the future."

Coulthard has been outqualified by Raikkonen on four occasions, including at the last race in France, where he finally got to grips with the one-lap sessions but still finished one tenth of a second behind the Finn.

Villeneuve said the fact Coulthard has not made a major error this year - unlike Raikkonen who has started two races from the back of the grid after messing up his qualifying run - proves the Scot is not dead yet.

"David is always strong," said Villeneuve, whose place at BAR is one that could be taken by Coulthard. "There is always bad races for everyone and people will see the bad races more than they see the good races that he has done.

"I don't think the battle in qualifying with Kimi has been that clear anyway. He has had a few bad qualifying performances in a row now and that is the only reason it has been brought up."

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