Coulthard's practice is perfect

The force is with McLaren-Mercedes and David Coulthard is evidently in no mood to let the opportunity go. He was faster than his team-mate, Mika Hakkinen, by half a second in practice for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix and both were comfortably clear of their rival for the championship, Michael Schumacher.

The force is with McLaren-Mercedes and David Coulthard is evidently in no mood to let the opportunity go. He was faster than his team-mate, Mika Hakkinen, by half a second in practice for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix and both were comfortably clear of their rival for the championship, Michael Schumacher.

Coulthard is anxious to shed the "Man Friday" tag and retain his form through the weekend because he cannot afford to fall further behind in the title chase. Hakkinen heads Schumacher by two points and the Scotsman by six.

Ferrari have brought heaps of equipment and parts to this race in an attempt to resuscitate Schumacher's cause, but there is no substitute for pace and the signs are not encouraging for the German.

However, Schumacher declined to betray any dismay in public. He said: "We had a reasonable day's practice. The car is not too bad. It is no harder to find the right set-up here than anywhere else."

Ferrari's latest stumble has led to stories of a multi-million dollar bid for McLaren's technical director, Adrian Newey, but Jean Todt, the Italian team's sporting director, was dismissive. "It's just speculation, nothing true," he said. "Just people trying to destabilise the team. Michael is right not to be happy but we hope he will be happy after this race. A driver wants to win. The championship is still very open."

Johnny Herbert's appearance in third place yesterday is the intriguing twist to events. The Englishman, who leaves Formula One at the end of the season to race in CART, has yet to score for Jaguar and senses the prospect of giving the team something to remember him by.

He registered Stewart-Ford's first victory last year and, although the team now called Jaguar would require a healthy dose of good fortune to win here, Herbert is an accomplished driver on fast circuits and capable of getting the best out of the car.

Herbert said: "I like fast circuits and I've always liked this circuit. I want to go out on a high and that's what I'm looking for. A win would be great but that might not be realistic. A podium place would be nice, not only for me but also for the team."

A fringe show at the Spa festival features Toyota, the next team to enter Formula One, in 2002. They have been unveiling their latest plans, including what amounts to a challenge to Allan McNish to claim an overdue appearance on motor-racing's grandest stage.

The 30-year-old Scot, already testing for the Cologne-based organisation, has a contract for a further two years. If he satisfies Toyota he has the necessary pace, he will be one of the two race drivers in their maiden world championship season. The other will be Mika Salo, the 33-year-old Finn who leaves Sauber at the end of the season.

"My goal is to get the other drive," McNish said. "I've got an opportunity in front of me and Toyota believe I can do it. To be brutally honest I'll be judged against Salo. Comparison is the nature of the beast."

McNish was considered a natural for Formula One a decade ago. Then he was involved in an accident at Donington which resulted in the death of a spectator and his confidence was shaken. Sports cars provided him with a chance to revive his career and victory at Le Mans two years ago persuaded Toyota he was the man to steer them through their initial test programme.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup