DC: I've improved a lot this year
Coulthard reckons he's a better driver, despite difficult year
Coulthard took his last win in Austria... He'd like that winning feeling at Spa
David Coulthard believes he has improved overall as a driver over the course of the 2001 season, despite the McLaren star losing the fight for the world title to Michael Schumacher in Hungary a week ago.
The Scot, with two wins under his belt this year, remains positive about his efforts so far this season, but says the McLaren team will have to redress its reliability and performance issues if it is to topple Ferrari in 2002.
"If you look at the season I've improved in many areas," said DC. "I've had some very consistent performances throughout the whole season in terms of my driving. I've improved in my qualifying, and I've had some very strong wins and very good races.
"But we've been disappointed as a team in reliability issues, and generally of course we haven't had the performance from the car that we've seen in previous seasons, so we need to work on that next year. You've got to believe that the team will be able to do the job that they did in previous years."
Coulthard also hinted that he has learned how to achieve parity within McLaren, after suggestions that the Woking-based outfit has given preferential treatment to DC's team mate Mika Hakkinen in previous seasons.
"Within a team you have two teams, in terms of the two drivers," explained Coulthard. "Where the majority of the support looks like it's going, has an affect on both the drivers. It motivates one and demotivates the other. It's an interesting journey, working with the team and trying to get the most of these situations."
Coulthard heads to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend knowing that his second place in the drivers' championship is under threat from Schumacher's team mate Rubens Barrichello and Williams' Ralf Schumacher. Also, McLaren, unlike its close competitors, has yet to announce its driver line-up for next year. But DC says it is this kind of pressure that he relishes.
"It never gets any easier," said Coulthard. "But if life wasn't a challenge, or if this sort of business wasn't a challenge, then why would we put ourselves through the travelling, the time away from home and so on? There is a helluva lot of work going on behind the scenes to achieve your goals. You have to battle for it."