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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Coulthard's split personality

By Jonathan Legard
BBC motor racing correspondent

If David Coulthard only performed as well on Saturdays as he does on Sundays, there would be no question of a sweaty August break while McLaren consider whether to pursue their interest in Juan Pablo Montoya.

Coulthard's performance at Hockenheim was a perfect response to the frenzy that swirls around his future for 2004.

David Coulthard
Coulthard finished second in Hockenheim

It was also typical of his season so far.

He makes life so difficult for himself by qualifying down the grid, then redeems himself by racing with distinction through the field to score points.

He won in Australia after qualifying 11th. In Germany he claimed an excellent second place from 10th.

But as long as he struggles in the one lap format, McLaren will continue to harbour doubts.

They need two successful cars to regain the constructors' championship.

Too often in 2003, Kimi Raikkonen has been left to fight alone.

That said, Montoya's move into title contention with Williams looks like delaying discussions with McLaren.

Whether he was inspired by their interest or motivated to show Williams what they would be missing, or merely doing what he loves to do best, the Colombian's second victory of the season was as brilliant as the Rhineland sunshine.

It has given him the whiphand over team-mate Ralf Schumacher, who has now fallen 18 points behind his brother.

Montoya would do well to concentrate less on Ralf Schumacher's fatter pay cheque and more on Michael Schumacher's red Ferrari

If Williams fail in their appeal over his punishment for causing the collision at Hockenheim's first corner, Schumacher's task is even more forlorn at the next race.

Overtaking at the Hungaroring is always challenging, but having to overcome a drop of 10 grid places will be like driving on three wheels.

Admittedly, Nigel Mansell came from 12th on the grid to win in Hungary in 1989 but Ralf Schumacher is no Mansell.

Montoya's bargaining position has also been strengthened, and if he could dislodge Michael Schumacher from top spot in the championship in three weeks, his management team would pack a powerful punch around the negotiating table, whichever team was on the other side.

Juan Pablo Montoya
Montoya could steal Michael Schumacher's crown

Montoya is currently running high on emotion, not all of it positive.

He resents the size of his salary - considerably less than that of Ralf Schumacher.

But then he is less experienced and Williams did fund his development before Formula One.

He had a row with team bosses Frank Williams and Patrick Head at Silverstone where he was told such aggressive behaviour would not be tolerated again.

He is still aggrieved by the team's tactics at the French Grand Prix when they called in his team-mate just as he was about to take the initiative.

He wears his heart on his sleeve. He races fast and loose and how he likes - which is the Williams way, so long as it produces results.

At Germany it worked. In Australia and Canada, when he made mistakes, it did not.

If he turned his back on Williams for McLaren, would this more relaxed approach be acceptable in a more corporate environment?

Without doubt, Ron Dennis' blandishments are flattering and highly attractive.

Focus on Ferrari

He has reportedly offered to treble Montoya's wages - which would still leave the Colombian down on Ralf Schumacher's 2004 salary, incidentally.

But what are the guarantees that McLaren will provide Montoya with the car to win races and titles, like Williams are currently doing?

Will Mercedes build engines to match the power of BMW?

The trials surrounding the MP4-18 do not inspire confidence.

Montoya trusts in his instincts. His manager, Julian Jakobi, works more methodically.

Between them, they have no need to rush.

But the driver would do well to concentrate less on Ralf Schumacher's fatter pay cheque and more on Michael Schumacher's red Ferrari.






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