Coulthard's new hunger will win title says Jordan

Click to follow
The Independent Online

David Coulthard scored a few more psychological points in the world drivers' championship here yesterday, reinforcing the faith of at least one observer that the Scotsman has the ability and temperament to win the title this season.

David Coulthard scored a few more psychological points in the world drivers' championship here yesterday, reinforcing the faith of at least one observer that the Scotsman has the ability and temperament to win the title this season.

The McLaren-Mercedes driver and his team-mate, Mika Hakkinen, are level on points, just two behind the leader, Michael Schumacher, of Ferrari, going in to tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix. The consensus of the Formula One fraternity is that Hakkinen, twice champion and having recovered from his lack-lustre spell, will emerge as McLaren's main challenger to Schumacher, also twice champion, rather than Coulthard . Eddie Jordan, the team owner still striving to compete for the championship, begs to differ.

Jordan said: "I have a funny feeling Hakkinen won't be champion this time. I have a sneaking feeling David Coulthard is a much more determined, composed and steely character. While Mika has the experience of having won two championships, David might have more hunger and aggression.

"It was evident not only in the way he passed Schumacher in France, but also in the gesture he made. It was a sign of aggression and the crucial change which needed to happen."

Jordan, the Irishman who has based his operation at Silverstone, feels Coulthard can give his nation and, in particular, the focal point of British motor sport, a timely fillip.

"I would dearly like to see David win the championship," Jordan said. "I think it would be great for British motor sport. The FIA [the sport's international governing body] seem critical of British motor sport and Silverstone at the moment, with the possibility there won't be a British Grand Prix in future. So we need a boost in Formula One and David can provide it."

Jordan, who gave Schumacher his Formula One debut, at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, senses that the German's reluctance to acknowledge his errors could undermine his prospects of delivering Ferrari their first drivers' title in 21 years. Schumacher's lead of 22 points has all but gone after three consecutive non-finishes, and coming to grief at the first corner in each of the last two races. He blamed Giancarlo Fisichella, the Benetton driver, for running into him at Hockenheim a fortnight ago.

Jordan said: "Michael no longer wants to believe it is ever his mistake. The only time I can recall his owning up was after the incident with JacquesVilleneuve at Jerez in 1997.

"He has to realise the track is not only his to do what he likes. He gave Fizzy no chance at Hockenheim. How he can stand up and say it was Fizzy's fault amazes me.

"You start to think back to other incidents. The one with Damon Hill at Adelaide, and when he took out Heinz-Harald Frentzen in Canada, plus all the problems with his starts."

Coulthard, who was followed yesterday by Hakkinen, Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, in the other Ferrari, declares himself confident that he has the resilience to cope with the pressures of the last six grands prix. He said: "Only one of us can have the number one on his car when the music stops. Does that mean he's the best guy? If I win, yes, I think so."

Another, younger Briton, Jenson Button, presented further evidence of his fledgling talent with eighth place in practice yesterday. The 20-year-old Williams-BMW driver, eighth in the championship, is still waiting to be told which team he will be representing next season.

He is due to be released by Williams to make way for Juan Pablo Montoya and move to Benetton as partner to Fisichella, who will stay at the team next year. However, Williams have not yet concluded a deal with Ganassi Racing, the Cart team, to secure Montoya's services. Toyota, Ganassi's engine-makers, apparently want to keep Montoya.

The Jaguar pair, Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert, were 10th and 20th respectively in practice.

Comments