Coulthard wants 2002 McLaren to be a winner

DAVID COULTHARD has reaffirmed his belief that he is the man to take the fight to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher in 2002... if he gets the car to do the job.

The 2001 McLaren MP4/16 disappointed from the outset, and despite some courageous performances from Coulthard in his best season yet, wilful handling and woeful reliability effectively ended his title challenge by mid-season.

Next year the team's British engine builders Ilmor will have a new Mercedes-badged engine to put at the team's disposal using a 90-degree vee angle to lower the center of gravity, while McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey has been hard at work on the new chassis for some time.

Nevertheless the other two teams likely to be in contention, Williams and Ferrari, both have race miles on some significant parts of their 2002 race packages - Williams having run an 'FW23B' for the final four races of the year and Ferrari running a similar sub-2002 chassis for Michael Schumacher in Japan.

Both teams have had concerted 2002 testing programs running this year and with McLaren now unable to try running any new parts until January due to the testing ban things are, on the surface, a little difficult for this year's runners-up.

Michael Schumacher praised Coulthard's efforts in Japan and counts him as a serious threat, but DC wants nothing other than to be able to prove his point on the track in 2002. "I am not looking to Michael for acceptance but equally I am not blind to the fact Michael has been so consistent throughout his career. This is more about what I think about myself," he said.

"There is only one thing that means anything to me any more - that's the world championship," he added. "What would be nice would be to have the type of advantage we had in 1998 when we dominated. I am confident the team can give me the package"

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