Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Coulthard Win a Turning Point, Says Haug

Monday April 2nd, 2001

David Coulthard's victory at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix was a turning point but McLaren can still improve, believes Norbert Haug, head of Mercedes-Benz motorsport.

"This is a step forward," Haug told German sports news agency SID. "We have worked night and day for this, in particular the guys who are responsible for the engine and aerodynamics. There's no big optical difference but we changed a lot of small things.

"We are still not where we want to be. There's still some work to do."

Haug said Coulthard's 10th career victory, which ended a sequence of six successive wins for Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, showed McLaren were competitive at last.

"This is a turning point," he said. "It was about time. We are relieved but we are careful not to get carried away.

"I am ever so happy for David. He showed what he is really capable of by beating Michael Schumacher in extremely difficult conditions. We have always believed in him but up to now he did not have the best car."

Haug said he saw no reason why Coulthard would become McLaren's number one driver and added he expected his teammate, double world champion Mika Hakkinen, would soon recover from a worrying start.

"We haven't talked about it but I assume we will keep relying on two drivers on the same level," Haug said. "David is very consistent at the moment and he's in the top class.

"But we will support Mika and will not leave him out. The season is still long and we will soon be providing him with a better package."

Haug predicted not only Ferrari and McLaren would battle it out for the title but also Williams-BMW, whose Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya led for 36 laps on Sunday before being taken out by Dutchman Jos Verstappen as he lapped the Arrows driver.

"I think it will be a fight between three teams," Haug said. "Ferrari remain strong and BMW have done a super job. There is no clear favourite."

Haug said he would not mind if BMW could also upset Ferrari.

"I have nothing against BMW and Mercedes working together a bit," he said. "We could form a German alliance."

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