Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Alesi: Coulthard the Main Threat to Schumacher

Wednesday November 14th, 2001

World Champion Michael Schumacher should be more wary of David Coulthard next year than Juan Pablo Montoya or his brother Ralf, according to Jean Alesi.

The retired French driver, in an interview with Wednesday's Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, was asked who he saw as the German's main rival in 2002.

"Coulthard," he replied. "Montoya is strong, but he lives too much for the thrill of overtaking. He will be World Champion material in 2003.

"Ferrari are strong and fragile at the same time. They have a great structure but everything can change quickly in Formula One," he added. "I expect a big reaction from McLaren. Williams remain the third force for me."

Williams won four races in 2001, three by Ralf Schumacher and one by Colombian Montoya in his debut season, and finished a strong third overall in the Constructors' Championship behind Ferrari and Coulthard's disappointing McLaren team.

"Coulthard, with the departure of (Mika) Hakkinen, will have the team to himself," Alesi added. "I do not expect much from (Kimi) Raikkonen. He will be a mature driver after two or three seasons, not immediately."

Alesi, who retired in October after 201 Formula One Grands Prix, has since been linked with a drive for Mercedes, McLaren's partners, in German DTM touring cars.

Coulthard finished the 2001 season as runner-up to four times champion Schumacher, the best overall placing of his career, and will partner 22-year-old Finn Raikkonen next year.

Alesi said he would like to race in DTM but wanted a few days to make his decision, adding that Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug was eager to sign him up.

Published at 10:33:35 GMT

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