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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 July, 2003, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Coulthard issues stark warning
David Coulthard
There will be a fatality in motorsport in the future - you can't brush these things under the carpet
David Coulthard
David Coulthard has warned that someone will be killed unless Formula One bosses get tough on inexperienced drivers.

The 32-year-old revealed his fears as he admitted for the first time that he may have been at fault in his infamous incident with Michael Schumacher in Belgium five years ago.

Schumacher had to be physically held back when accusing Coulthard of trying to kill him after his Ferrari smashed into the back of the Scot's McLaren in a rain-lashed race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Coulthard believes it is only a matter of time before a driver is sent airborne again off the back of another car, as happened in Australia in 2001 when a local marshal was killed after being hit by a flying tyre.

"There will be a fatality in motorsport in the future," said Coulthard.

"Let's hope it's no time soon and that it never happens, but it is a dangerous business. You can't just brush these things under the carpet.

"I don't want to have that experience, or someone else have that experience, of being launched into the air.

"The fact is it has happened twice before in the last few years with Jacques Villeneuve over the back of Ralf Schumacher and sadly a marshal was killed.

"Then Ralf went over the back of Rubens Barrichello and no-one was hurt. I was that close to doing something similar."

Coulthard had to violently swerve to avoid ramming into the back of Fernando Alonso's Renault at 200mph in last Sunday's European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

I lifted to let Michael past me but I did it in heavy spray on the racing line - I would never do that now
David Coulthard

The Spaniard was accused of brake-testing his rival but Coulthard now believes Alonso, in his second season in F1, had just lifted off the brakes.

Coulthard reckons the problem is young drivers coming straight into F1 without having time to learn their craft in lower categories where the consequences of mistakes can be less serious.

Coulthard now admits it was his lack of experience which caused the incident in Belgium in 1998 when he failed to move off the racing line while being lapped by Schumacher, who was unsighted by spray.

Schumacher was in a fierce title battle with Mika Hakkinen and believed Coulthard had deliberately tried to brake-test him to aid his McLaren team-mate.

"I'm not going to be hard on Alonso, but on recollection in Spa 1998 when Michael ran into the back of me, his reaction was that I'd brake-tested him and tried to kill him," said Coulthard.

"The stewards looked at the data and I hadn't braked so it was brushed under the carpet.

"The reality is, I lifted to let him past me but I did it in heavy spray on the racing line.

Fernando Alonso leads David Coulthard during the European Grand Prix
Alonso angered Coulthard at the Nurburgring
"You should never do that. I would never do that now. In 1998 I didn't have the experience and knowledge - and I'd never had anyone run into the back of me.

"All the other guys are doing the same thing but the risk is that it could have been a very big accident for Michael and Nurburgring could have been a very dangerous accident for me," added Coulthard, who said he finally realised his error after last Sunday's race in Germany.

"Eventually, eight or 10 years from now, another young guy will come in and it will happen to Fernando and he will feel slightly different about it."

Coulthard believes the sport's race director Charlie Whiting has to get tougher with drivers who do not move out of the way quick enough.

Schumacher thanked Coulthard for finally agreeing with him about the incident at Spa.

"I'm glad he finally shares the same opinion as me on this incident," said Schumacher.

"It happened a long time ago and there is nothing more to say about it. But it's nice to hear him admit it."




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