Coulthard out to put record straight

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David Coulthard plans to wipe the smile off Michael Schumacher's face in Brazil next weekend.

Coulthard warned the German he is deluding himself if he thinks his Ferrari would have won the opening race in Australia last Sunday even if the McLarens had not retired.

Schumacher was in bullish mood in Melbourne after his victory following the departure of world champion Mika Hakkinen and Coulthard with the same engine problem in their Mercedes powered car.

But Coulthard has hit back, saying: "The Ferrari is closer to us this year, but our car is still quicker.

"We were one and two in qualifying and leading before we retired. If Michael thinks it was his strategy to be in third place and he would still have won then he is deluding himself.

"It's disappointing what happened to Mika and myself because we were in control. But it is a small reliability problem, and the team are confident they will quickly fix it."

Coulthard, who was second when he retired, wants to give himself an early birthday present and pick up some points in the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo tomorrow week.

The Scot, who will be 29 the day after the race, does not want a repeat of last year when he failed to score a point in three of the opening four grand prix which virtually left his title bid in tatters.

"Every race that you tick off without a point makes it harder on yourself," added the Monaco-based driver.

"But I am still confident and looking forward to going to Brazil. There are still 16 more races left."

Hakkinen, who has won the race in Brazil for the past two years, will be favourite to make it a hat-trick as long as the pneumatic valve system problem in the engine has been fixed.

Schumacher can also expect a fierce challenge from team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who is pumped up to claim his maiden win in his home race.

Barrichello was second in Australia as Ferrari celebrated their first one-two in the season opener for 47 years, although McLaren boss Ron Dennis claimed the Brazilian had been "sacrificed" for Schumacher.

Dennis's outburst was countered by Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn as a war of words opened up between the bitter rivals that is likely to last throughout the season.

But that will be of little concern to Barrichello, whose first race in the famous colours of Ferrari will bring sell-out crowds to the Interlagos track in his home city.

"If I could choose where to win my first race it would be in Brazil," said Barrichello, who has now finished second for three different teams - the others were Jordan and Stewart - in his 114-race career.

"It was great to finish runner-up in my first race for Ferrari, but hopefully we can now switch places so that I win in Brazil.

"It is special and very emotional to be the first Brazilian to drive for Ferrari. But once the visor goes down I will forget all that because there is a job of work to do.

"I know there will be a lot of pressure on me in Brazil and that the fans will want me to do well. Hopefully I can do so for them."

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