Motor racing: Coulthard still optimistic

DAVID COULTHARD faces the biggest test of his title credentials in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday and yesterday insisted that he is not out of championship contention.

Coulthard knows he cannot afford to let McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen extend his 17 points advantage at the top with the mid-way point of the season drawing near.

The pressure will be on the 27-year-old Scot and he said: "Mika's advantage might seem quite a lot, but things can change very quickly in Formula One," said Coulthard, who saw his title hopes suffer when a blown engine sent him out of contention in Monaco last time out. "I'm not giving up the title by any means. I still think I have a very good chance of winning it this year.

"I was unfortunate in Monaco with the engine going. But the same thing could happen to Mika at some stage - these things even out over the season.

"But I'm confident that I can do well in Montreal this weekend. I was looking good there last year until a pit-stop went wrong, so there's no reason why I can't win this time."

Jacques Villeneuve insisted yesterday that he could defy the odds stacked against him and keep hold of his world title. Villeneuve goes into his home race trailing Hakkinen by 38 points after collecting only eight points from the opening six races.

But the Canadian believes changes to the rear-end of the Williams, which he tested in Monza, last week can see him fighting for victories from now on.