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  Sunday, 26 May, 2002, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
DC's day in the sun
David Coulthard
David Coulthard ended McLaren's winless streak

In the space of a year David Coulthard has gone from the depths of despair to the top step of Monaco's royal box.

And he did not appear to know whether to laugh or cry when accepting the winner's silver trophy from Prince Rainier.

Monaco 2002 was everything that Monaco 2001 had promised to be for the Scot.

His McLaren Mercedes worked like a dream and he drove like a champion to victory.

If only, he must have thought, if only he had been blessed by such mechanical mobility 12 months ago when his car failed to start.

That left him to fight his way through from the back of the field to claim fifth place.

His championship challenge never recovered from the setback - the rot set in.

So much so that this victory was his first in more than a year.

Michael Schumacher congratulates David Coulthard
Schumacher gives his rival a hug
Listening to Coulthard and McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey earlier in the week, there seemed more chance of a Mika Hakkinen comeback than a Coulthard victory.

Struggle and development were their themes.

The words were full of hope for the future and the chances of respectability in the short term.

Champagne moments didn't appear on the agenda.

Podium finishes were the best on offer in the face of Ferrari's brilliance and the resurgence at Williams in the 2002 championship contest.

Sandbagging or not, Thursday practice revealed the first signs of Michelin's potential with their Monaco-specific tyre.

Renault, Toyota and McLaren occupied the top three places on their new rubber.

Michelin looked to have found around three quarters of a second per lap.

In the hands of an experienced Monaco campaigner like David Coulthard, that can make all the difference.

Particularly on a car like the McLaren, where extra grip compensates for the current shortfall in Mercedes top-end power.

Enter Coulthard in qualifying trim, and pole position went begging by just four tenths of a second.

Coulthard was on the front row for the first time since last August.

Couthard brings some joy to the McLaren pit
Couthard brings some joy to the McLaren pit
Then came Sunday's showpiece - and the Scot may never drive a more perfect race.

He demonstrated in front of F1's most exalted galleries what a class act he can be when given a car that works.

Not a wheel out of place, not a break in concentration, keeping mighty Michael at bay for a fairytale result that came 12 months too late.

It is a massive boost to McLaren after the criticism for their fall from grace, even if it may only be a flash of brilliance and not a turning point for the season.

Hungary may provide another weekend of celebration.

Montreal in two weeks certainly does not promise to be nearly as rewarding.

It is a power track where Williams will expect the maximum from BMW, and even Michael Schumacher may have to hang on and hope for the best.

But after 18 winless Grands Prix, David Coulthard more than deserved his place in the Mediterranean sunshine.

He also restored faith in F1's ability to produce a competitive, entertaining event.

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Reaction and analysis

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
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