Friday June 29th, 2001
McLaren's David Coulthard has refused to admit defeat in his title bid after topping the times in Friday's free practice at Magny-Cours. Coulthard is 24 points behind leader German Michael Schumacher in the championship standings, but he said that he intends to put himself back in contention with a win in Sunday's French Grand Prix at Magny Cours.
"I've been more encouraged today and we have been generally more upbeat than in the past," said Coulthard, who lapped nearly a second faster than Schumacher. "We have got through a good range of possibilities. I would be pleasantly surprised if I was on pole tomorrow, but the win is definitely my target."
A retirement in Canada and then third place at the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring last weekend allowed Ferrari driver Schumacher to open the 24-point gap. But Coulthard said that he is very much in the hunt for his maiden Formula One crown despite his recent setbacks.
"You will not see anyone in the team saying anything about it, but the situation is that the championship is not lost and that it is very important," he said. "I'm trying to get the most out of every race and I think I have done that. Unfortunately we've not done that as we would have liked in every race.
"But I concentrate on the future because you can't change the past. What we can do is influence the future and we won't be affected by the situation that we are in."
Coulthard admitted that McLaren are aware of the niggling problems that have hampered their progress this year, and said that everybody in the team was aware of what was needed to put things right.
"I like to stay in the real world," he said. "We (McLaren) don't fudge facts and we work in reality. We know what is happening and we know what we have to do."
Published at 16:16:16 GMT