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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Coulthard: It was worth it

Coulthard with girlfriend Heidi and a senior Mercedes official
BBC motor racing correspondent Jonathan Legard talks to David Coulthard after his brave second place in the Spanish Grand Prix - and hears how Michael Schumacher's race went wrong.

McLaren couldn't have asked for more from the Spanish Grand Prix.

They took maximum points from a second successive 1-2 finish, while Michael Schumacher and Ferrari fumbled their strategy and suffered reliability problems.



Two families suffered a huge loss last week and I didn't think it was right for me to celebrate in such circumstances

David Coulthard
Mika Hakkinen took the chequered flag - his third in a row in Barcelona - but David Coulthard took the honours at the end of the most traumatic week of his life.

Every bump and kerb jolted the ribs he cracked in last Tuesday's air crash but he never flinched from the challenge, and second place was just reward for exemplary courage and determination.

"It would have been easy not to compete after what happened in the week," he said.

"But I had a job to do and I wanted to do it.

"I was uncomfortable in the race but it was a small price to pay.

Coulthard did not spray champagne on the podium

"I was determined not to give an inch in the battle for the championship because I want to pit myself against the best."

Coulthard has closed the gap on Schumacher to 16 points but now trails Hakkinen as well.

He admitted he got a fright when Michael Schumacher moved to block his initial attempt to overtake in the race.

But there was no stopping his second effort at the end of the pit straight.



The last fortnight has been so mad I haven't had time to think about it which may have been a good thing.....now, though, it'll maybe sink in exactly what I've been through

David Coulthard
"The big difference from being a passenger in an aeroplane is that in a racing car you feel like you're in control," he pointed out.

"You feel you can influence what's happening around you."

Coulthard also made a point of not spraying champagne on the podium because he didn't feel it appropriate.

"Two families suffered a huge loss last week and I didn't think it was right for me to celebrate in such circumstances," he said.

Coulthard had been criticised in some quarters for racing instead of withdrawing as a mark of respect to the two pilots who died.

McLaren's team principal, Ron Dennis, hailed Coulthard's weekend's work as "a great achievement".



I felt I had driven over something and looked in my mirror and saw a mechanic on the ground

Michael Schumacher
"The incident in the week has strengthened his character and determination," he said.

"Our strategy was exceptional and adaptive. We showed we had the better car."

Certainly this was Schumacher's weakest race so far.

He thought he chose the wrong tyre but his Ferrari was below par in any case and suffered a slow puncture which forced him into three pitstops.

But Schumacher was also the master of his own downfall because he ran over the team's chief mechanic, Nigel Stepney, in the pits.

"On my first stop, the lollipop man lifted his sign and then put it down again but it was impossible to stop that quickly," he said.

Schumacher: Poor race for the German

"I felt I had driven over something and looked in my mirror and saw a mechanic on the ground.

"Nigel is a tough guy and fortunately he has only twisted his ankle.

"You cannot always have lucky races but I took two important points and we are still looking strong for the rest of the season."

On this evidence so too are McLaren.

Both Coulthard and Hakkinen are convinced the team made a breakthrough over the weekend and predict changes which will improve their competitiveness even more.

With 12 races remaining Schumacher's 14 point lead over Hakkinen looks far less daunting than it could have been had he maintained his lead from pole position.

Mechanic Nigel Stepney after Ferrari's accident

And nobody should discount David Coulthard's championship chances after two performances of real quality.

Happily, unlike Silverstone two weeks ago, his family beat the Barcelona traffic to watch him.

And for the first time in ages, he's got a week off.

"The last fortnight has been so mad I haven't had time to think about it which may have been a good thing," he said.

"Now, though, it'll maybe sink in exactly what I've been through."

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See also:

05 May 00 | Motorsport
Coulthard back on track
04 May 00 | Scotland
Coulthard: I was lucky to survive
23 Apr 00 | Motorsport
Silverstone glory for Coulthard
02 May 00 | Motorsport
Coulthard: Scotland's fastest man
23 Apr 00 | Motorsport
Mansell inspires Coulthard move
09 Mar 00 | Motorsport
Spanish GP circuit guide
06 May 00 | Motorsport
Schumacher takes Spanish pole
07 May 00 | Motorsport
Schumacher fastest in warm-up
07 May 00 | Motorsport
Hakkinen's day as Ferrari falter
Links to other Motorsport stories are at the foot of the page.