Coulthard charged up by feud with Ferrari

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The Independent Online

As the feud between David Coulthard's McLaren team and Ferrari's World Championship leader Michael Schumacher intensified in São Paolo yesterday, the Scot reiterated his desire to do his talking on the track, insisting his only thoughts were on winning the race.

Coulthard is confident he can celebrate his 29th birthday a day early on Sunday with victory at Interlagos, where the winner has gone on to take the title for the past six years.

The Monaco-based driver says it will be pay-back time for Schumacher, whose excessive celebrations following his victory in last week's season opening race in Australia sparked the ill-feeling.

Schumacher said after his victory in Melbourne that he was confident he would have won even if the McLarens of Mika Hakkinen and Coulthard, who were both ahead of him, had not retired with blown engines.

"Whatever Michael says, we were quicker," Coulthard said. "We were on the front row in qualifying and were leading the race. Michael says he would still have won. But it's a different thing doing it than talking about it afterwards.

"Ferrari are closer to us this year, but we have still got a very competitive car. Hopefully it will be pay-back time this weekend. But Ferrari are 16 points ahead of us now and we have got to make them back up.

"I will be going all out for the win on Sunday. I know Mika has won here for the past two years, but I think I can turn that around this time."

Coulthard is hopeful that McLaren Mercedes have solved the problem with a seal in the engine's pneumatic valve system that cost them dearly in Australia as Schumacher led the Ferrari one-two with Rubens Barrichello. "The team have told me they think they have got it under control, but we won't know until Sunday," Coulthard said.

"They have done all they can in the time since the last race to sort it out. If you push to the limit in Formula One, then occasionally things break down."

The sporting director of Mercedes, Norbert Haug, is confident that the problem, reported to be a small air filter in the engine, has been solved. "We have done the maximum to make sure we won't have the same problem again," he said.

"We have done 500km of testing at Silverstone and everything went smoothly. I am certain that the hard work we have done will bear fruit in terms of reliability. There are 16 races left which will enable us to demonstrate that our cars are not only fast but reliable."