MARCH 4, 1996

Coulthard throws cold water on McLaren hopes

DESPITE some promising testing times from Mika Hakkinen at Estoril, the McLaren Mercedes team is unlikely to be a World Championship challenger this year - according to driver David Coulthard.

Coulthard told reporters that the team could not really expect better than "the second or third row of the grid" this season. He added that he will be trying to win a couple of races, and will be building up for a championship challenge in 1997 and 1998.

In testing to date, the McLaren-Mercedes has shown itself to be quick in the hands of Mika Hakkinen, but it has not been very reliable with a number of engine problems reported during the testing at Estoril. The team was due to pack up on Sunday February 25 but extended the test an extra day because of engine troubles.