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David Coulthard
"You have to be as close to 100% as possible"
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banner Saturday, 24 February, 2001, 13:57 GMT
Consistency is the key, says Coulthard
David Coulthard in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-16
Coulthard has been going well in the new McLaren
By BBC Sport Online's Andrew Benson

David Coulthard believes he can win the Formula One World Championship this year - if he can perform near his best at every race.

The Scot knows he can beat his McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen and Ferrari Michael Schumacher, but admits that he has not in the past achieved this level of excellence often enough.

"It's still the same quick guys you have to beat," he said, "and you have to be on the top of your form to beat them.

"It's not as if I'm trying to climb the mountain to prove to myself that I can do it or not. What I'm trying to do is stay balance on top of that mountain.

David Coulthard (left) and Mika Hakkinen
Coulthard knows it will be tough to beat Hakkinen

"If I can get to a consistent level, then the rest will follow."

Coulthard believes that changes to the structure of the McLaren team for 2001 will help him achieve his goal.

In the past, the team's management have been accused of concentrating too much on Hakkinen.

This is claimed to have affected Coulthard's ability to benefit from engineering decisions and his confidence.

But for this year, Coulthard's former race engineer, Pat Fry, will perform a central role, looking after both cars.

Coulthard said: "It's much more balanced [now]. Previously Adrian [Newey, McLaren's technical director] gravitated towards Mika's car and didn't feel that he could take an overview.

It doesn't sit with people's perceptions of me in F1, but I thought it was the business
  David Coulthard

"Pat will naturally oversee what's happening on my car. The more clever people you hon your side, the better. The changes in the way the engineering line-up is done will strengthen my side.

It's still going to be difficult to beat the other guys, but it should help."

Coulthard uses his superb victory at the French Grand Prix last year as evidence that he can beat the best in the world when he is on-form.

"I think that Magny-Cours victory was one of the hardest fought victories of the year," he said.

"Forget it was me in the car. You've got someone running round in third place. He overtakes the second-placed guy [Rubens Barrichello], which normally only happens in pit stops.

"He then overtakes someone who's accepted as being a very aggressive racing driver and very hungry to win [Schumacher], and drives off into the distance and wins the Grand Prix.

"I thought that was a stunning victory! I know it doesn't sit with people's perceptions of me in F1, because I haven't done it consistently, but if that was Michael who'd won, it would have been classic Schumacher. I thought it was the business!"

Click here for full interview

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See also:

22 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Schumacher brimming with optimism
07 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Coulthard: Actions louder than words
14 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
McLaren sound F1 warning
16 Feb 01 |  Motorsport
Traction control given green light
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