MONTREAL -- David Coulthard knew he had a
major problem at the Canadian Grand Prix moments before the race
when he discovered a loose nut in the cockpit of his car.
"My front suspension was detached," said the McLaren driver,
whose retirement in the race meant he failed to score points for
the first time this season.
The Scot remained second in the Formula One championship but
now 18 points behind Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
"When I went to the grid a nut from the front suspension was
in the cockpit," he told reporters in the paddock.
"I threw it over the pit wall before the start of the race.
So the whole car was twisted.
"The team gave me the option to stop but I thought as I was
in a points position I should keep going. But there was no way I
could drive quickly because the front left wheel was not
attached to the car properly."
Coulthard's race finally ended 15 laps from the finish when
his engine blew. Ralf Schumacher won for Williams ahead of
To add to his bad day, having explained how he could not go
flat out, Coulthard was then fined $5,000 by stewards after the
race for speeding in the pit lane.
The retirement may have ended Coulthard's status as the only
driver this season to score points in every race but he was not
downhearted about his title prospects with nine grands prix
"These things happen now and again," he said.
"I have no doubt that I can still win the world championship
and will continue to work towards it," he said. "If you don't
like a challenge you shouldn't be in Formula One."
McLaren boss Ron Dennis applauded the Scot for his drive in
the circumstances, saying it was an outstanding performance.
Coulthard had been third on the grid and remained third for
the first few laps despite obviously struggling to keep up with
As the race progressed the water pressure in his engine rose
and temperatures increased lap by lap until it became inevitable
that the engine would blow before the finish.
"He could not attack from the very beginning," said Mercedes
motorsport boss Norbert Haug, McLaren's engine partner.
"If you look at the lap times, at one stage Mika (Hakkinen)
was almost two seconds quicker than David. Normally both are
equal. We knew that he was going to have a problem with the
engine but he just continued as long as he could."
While Coulthard failed to add to his tally of points, teammate Hakkinen doubled his for the season with his first podium
finish of the year.
"I am relieved to have finally made it to the podium which
is a good achievement when you start from eighth," said the
Finnish former world champion.
"The pit-stop strategy helped to achieve this although I was
not 100 percent happy with the car because I lost time entering
corners. During the last 15 laps I felt a vibration and I'm not
sure what caused it."
"At the end it meant I had to hold the steering-wheel
tighter and tighter."