JANUARY 14, 2001

Dennis backs Coulthard

MCLAREN chief Ron Dennis believes that David Coulthard can step out of team-mate Mika Hakkinen's shadow and become a world champion this year.

Talking to British daily newspaper The Sun, Dennis claimed: "David is extremely fired up. He's strong and wants to test as much as possible.

"I honestly feel that David can win the world championship this year."

Dennis also said that McLaren's car was the best on the grid last season, and that Mika Hakkinen's chances of success in 2000 were denied by the car's reliability problems.

He added: "We had the best car last season but reliability problems cost Mika his third title on the trot.

"This year we have produced the best car possible and we shall be working hard to ensure there are no slip-ups."