IMOLA: David Coulthard suggested on Monday that Ferrari’s new F2003-GA could be too fragile to win this year’s world championship and claimed his McLaren team are still “on the up.”
Ferrari roared back to form Sunday when Michael Schumacher won the San Marino Grand Prix in the old F2002 car after they delayed the introduction of their new machine until next week’s race at Barcelona in Spain.
But Coulthard believes the Italian team should be worried about teething problems that have seen test driver Luca Badoer pitched into two crashes whilst testing the new car.
He said: “They have done several thousand kilometres testing but there are some issues there. You hear of it being significantly lighter than previous cars and quite fragile which is why Luca Badoer has had a few shunts.
“Ferrari know their programme and it would be foolish of them to race the new car just because its new – and I think it is significant that it was not raced in Imola.”
Coulthard’s McLaren team are currently 19 points ahead of their Italian rivals after winning two of the first four races and Finn Kimi Raikkonen leads the drivers’ championship having finished on the podium in every race this year.
Ferrari, meanwhile, had a difficult start to the season after dominating the 2002 championship and prior to Imola Rubens Barrichello had claimed the team’s only podium with a second place finish in Malaysia.
But while Coulthard has suggested Ferrari’s fragile car could let them down he is also concerned about its pace and added: “If they bring out a new car you have got to believe it is quicker and that is not good news.
“The underlying pace of the (old) Ferrari is good and if you had to pick your weapons to go into the next battle, you would be hard pushed to bet against Ferrari having a quick single-lap car. “But as always in race trim we seem to be the biggest winners in terms of performance and they drop back a bit and so do Williams so we have every reason to be optimistic.
“I still think the McLaren trend is upwards. Kimi has had a solid start to the year and he has got a pretty healthy advantage to carry in the championship as we head towards the middle part of the year.”
The sport’s new points system, which awards the first eight drivers rather than the first six in previous years, rewards reliability and any further problems with the new Ferrari could hamper their championship efforts. – AFP