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McLaren boss Ron Dennis
"All three in accident have been exceptionally robust"
 real 28k

David Coulthard
"Great to be back in the car - I've got a job to do"
 real 28k

Jackie Stewart, former world champion
"Racing drivers are unusual animals"
 real 28k

Friday, 5 May, 2000, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Coulthard back on track

Coulthard gets to grips with the Spanish circuit
David Coulthard has set the fifth fastest time in practice at the Spanish Grand Prix - three days after surviving a fatal plane crash.

The McLaren driver actually failed to complete a full lap in Friday's first morning session - one of three drivers not to set a time.

But in the second period of free practice Coulthard erased doubts about his fitness, clocking up 20 laps.

In the combined times for the two sessions the Scot was actually faster than team-mate and defending world champion Mika Hakkinen, who was seventh quickest.

The Schumacher brothers - championship leader Michael of Ferrari and Williams' driver Ralf - set the two fastest times of the second session.

The Scot chose to sit out the earlier session

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello was third, followed by Jarno Trulli with Britain's Jenson Button setting the sixth-best time.

In the earlier session the two Ferrari drivers were quickest, but most eyes at the Circuit de Catalunya were on Coulthard.

The Scot escaped when the Learjet he was travelling in crashed at Lyon in France on Tuesday, killing both British pilots.

Coulthard's fiancée Heidi Wichlinski and his personal trainer Andy Matthews also survived.

The Scottish driver arrived in the Spanish city on Thursday, having flown for the first time since the accident earlier this week.

On arrival the 29-year-old Scot gave a brief statement outlining his experiences in the crash.

He said the three survivors all had time to prepare for the impact after the plane diverted to Lyon airport in France.



David recognises that he needs to look forward and will, therefore, race in this weekend's event

McLaren spokesman
When it hit the ground they then had time to scramble to safety.

Coulthard returned to the plane but was unable to help pilots David Saunders and Dan Worley.

Later he expressed his sympathy for the families of the pilots.

He said: "First of all I would like to express our heartfelt sympathies for the families of the two pilots who behaved in the utmost professional manner throughout the incident."

Those who survived the crash travelled from Coulthard's apartment in Monaco to Barcelona on a private aircraft.

He added: "I appreciate there is a lot of media and public interest in the incident. But my profession is motor racing and now I want the focus on this Grand Prix and trying to win the world championship."

'Consummate professional'

A spokesman for Coulthard's McLaren team said: "David is a consummate professional and as a dedicated Formula One driver he is in good physical and mental shape.

"We know this will allow him to recover from such an incident and, if anything, increase his determination to win this weekend.

"Despite his traumatic experience during the week David has given careful consideration to his participation in the Spanish Grand Prix.

" David recognises that he needs to look forward and will, therefore, race in this weekend's event."

Times

1. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Ferrari one minute 21.982 seconds (average speed 207.704 kph)
2. Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Williams 1:22.509
3. Rubens Barrichllo (Brazil) Ferrari 1:22.549
4. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Jordan 1:22.582
5. David Coulthard (Britain) McLaren 1:22.651
6. Jenson Button (Britain) Williams 1:23.119
7. Mika Hakkinen (Finland) McLaren 1:23.266
8. Pedro Diniz (Brazil) Sauber 1:23.394
9. Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Germany) Jordan 1:23.495
10. Jean Alesi (France) Prost 1:23.582
11. Marc Gene (Spain) Minardi 1:23.868
12. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Benetton 1:24.026
13. Johnny Herbert (Britain) Jaguar 1:24.114
14. Alexander Wurz (Austria) Benetton 1:24.161
15. Eddie Irvine (Britain) Jaguar 1:24.346
16. Jos Verstappen (Netherlands) Arrows 1:24.346
17. Ricardo Zonta (Brazil) BAR 1:24.461
18. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) Prost 1:24.582
19. Gaston Mazzacane (Argentina) Minardi 1:24.767
20. Mika Salo (Finland) Sauber 1:24.948
21. Jacques Villeneuve (Canada) BAR 1:25.166
22. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) Arrows 1:25.189

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See also:

03 May 00 | Scotland
Coulthard will race in Spain
04 May 00 | Scotland
Coulthard: I was lucky to survive
02 May 00 | Motorsport
Coulthard: Scotland's fastest man
23 Apr 00 | Motorsport
Silverstone glory for Coulthard
10 Apr 00 | Motorsport
Schumacher's flying start
09 Mar 00 | Motorsport
Spanish GP circuit guide
Links to other Motorsport stories are at the foot of the page.