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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 18:04 GMT
Coulthard fears for driver safety
David Coulthard
Coulthard has repeatedly expressed his concerns over driver safety
David Coulthard fears new Formula One rule changes could affect driver safety and lead to a serious incident.

Under regulations for 2008, traction control, which prevents wheelspin, and engine braking are banned.

"The big issue is when we have standing water on the track without traction control," said Coulthard, speaking at the launch of the new RB4 in Spain.

"There hasn't been a big incident - touch wood - for a long time, but it's just a question of when that happens."

Coulthard, a strong advocate for safety, has been racing in F1 for 14 years and believes his experience will be an advantage in coping with the rule change.

However, the Scot, 36, is concerned that his younger rivals will struggle to cope without the driver-aid systems, especially under race conditions like those experienced in Japan, when drivers went out in monsoon rain.

"A lot of the guys I'm racing now, they were at kindergarten when I was driving without all these toys, so I've no problem with it," said Coulthard.

Formula One does not need traction control - it doesn't cross the line of being too dangerous (without it)

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld

"But we've got so used to racing in wetter and wetter conditions due to the toys we've had available to us.

"If we go to Fuji without TC (traction control), you won't have as many cars finish, I can tell you that.

" I know it's never popular to talk about safety, because racing drivers are meant to be brave, but this is inherently a dangerous sport."

Coulthard's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber agreed with the Scot's sentiments and said he had safety concerns from what he had seen during testing.

"No question about it, there will be more crashes," said the Australian.

Mark Webber takes the new Red Bull around the Jerez circuit
Webber tests the new Red Bull around the Jerez circuit in Spain

"We've already seen it in testing. There are more guys going off, there are more red flags, and that is going to happen in races - that is a 100% certainty."

The removal of traction control has split opinion amongst the drivers with BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld unconcerned about the change.

"Formula One does not need traction control," said the German. "I enjoy it more as a driver, especially in the rain.

"For me, it doesn't cross the line of being too dangerous. If you want you can just sit on the outside, and then it's safe."

Renault's Fernando Alonso felt he would quickly be able to adapt to the changes while world champion Kimi Raikkonen expected to see more overtaking, whilst conceding driving in the wet would be more difficult.

We're happy with how everything has gone and there's certainly more to come

Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen, completed a third and final day of testing in Jerez, and said he was more than satisfied with the new Ferrari's performance.

"Overall we're happy with how everything has gone," said Raikkonen, who was eighth-quickest behind Timo Glock.

"We will obviously have to wait to see what the others are doing, but I think we are already in a good position, and there's certainly more to come."

Meanwhile, Webber remained confident Red Bull can solve the reliability issues that blighted their 2007 season after launching their new RB4 car for 2008.

"Of course, you want a fast car, but you want a reliable one too," he said.

"This year the car should be a damn sight better than last year, but then it's not too hard to improve on what we did last year."

Webber and Coulthard endured 10 retirements between them because of mechanical failure last season.

SEE ALSO
Red Bull Racing
08 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Coulthard extends Red Bull deal
06 Jul 07 |  Formula One
Low-key Red Bull launch new car
26 Jan 07 |  Formula One


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