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Tuesday, 6 June, 2000, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Ignore Coulthard at your peril
Schumacher should beware of the threat of Coulthard
BBC's Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard believes that Michael Schumacher should be wary of the threat of David Coulthard.

Michael Schumacher did his best to take the gloss off David Coulthard's performance in Monaco by referring to sixth placed Mika Hakkinen as his main title rival.

"Obviously I'm disappointed because of the problem with an exhaust pipe, but not too much," he said.

"It's true I could have picked up 10 points but the driver I consider my main rival could also have done so."

But David Coulthard's renewal as a Formula One force deserves better and Schumacher ignores him at his peril, only 12 points ahead now.

But for Coulthard's controversial disqualification from the Brazilian Grand Prix, the gap would only have been six points.

I have always said there are a few Grand Prix which are very special to me and Monaco is one of them

David Coulthard

Lapping Hakkinen as well as beating him will have carried special pleasure to the 29-year-old Monaco resident who is now a Monaco winner.

"I have always said there are a few Grand Prix which are very special to me and Monaco is one of them," Coulthard beamed.

"The track is probably the most technically challenging and I'm very happy for both the team and myself."

Coulthard's eighth career victory could hardly fail to draw praise from McLaren's team principal, Ron Dennis.

Coulthard has the backing of manager Ron Dennis

"David did a fantastic job," he said, dropping another strong hint that Coulthard's seat at the team is safe for another season at least.

"If we had to make a decision tomorrow you would have to say 'why change?'"

That view was echoed by a leading Mercedes official who suggested that an announcement retaining Coulthard and Hakkinen will be made at next month's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

As for the championship battle which Coulthard has now joined in earnest, Ron Dennis sounded a defiant note in Ferrari's direction.

"Michael can try any psychological ploys he wants but we're not worried," he said.

"I have the greatest respect for him but we're going to keep chipping away at the deficit until the end of the season. We're not going to listen to him."

Coulthard became the first British driver to win F1's most glittering prize since Jackie Stewart in 1973.

David did a fantastic job

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis

And the senior Scot was trackside at the weekend as Jaguar Racing scored their first points courtesy of Eddie Irvine's fourth place.

Coincidentally it was the same venue as the Stewart team's first points in 1997.

Stewart who gave Coulthard his chance in F3 10 years ago was highly impressed by what he saw on Sunday.

"I hope David can go on to win the world championship. He has a very serious chance if he goes on like this," he said.

He might also have reminded Coulthard that his Monaco victory 27 years ago led him to his third world title.

Coulthard's horizons understandably extend no further than the next race in Canada in a fortnight.

"I'm really looking forward to Montreal. I've led there twice before dropping out," he said.

"We usually go well there and the championship's hotting up, so stay tuned."

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