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Can Coulthard finally win? 04 Mar 2003

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren enjoys some refreshment ahead of a night in front of the video player
Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 17 March 2002

It's a question he is not just tired of hearing, but tired of contemplating: Can David Coulthard win the world championship? But it's one the Scot has become inured to over the years.

"The trouble is, that in my career I have nearly always been in championship-winning cars," he concedes, and though that might be a situation most other drivers on the grid would be desperate to be in, for Coulthard it has frequently been a double-edged sword.

Few doubt that the Scot was obliged to play second fiddle at times to McLaren Mercedes team-mate Mika Hakkinen, when push came to shove. And it was the Finn who swept up McLaren's last two world drivers' titles, in 1998 and 1999. Besides the inevitable question, the other thing that Coulthard hates is the title of Nearly Man.

But he has learned to be cautious, after the years of disappointment.

"People sometimes suggest I have been in Formula One too long," he says openly. "But what really matters is whether you have sufficient enthusiasm and determination to do the job when your package is right. If I had the slightest doubt about myself, I wouldn't be here. I'm comfortable with my level of experience. When the car is right, I know I'm going to win races. If that leads to the title, fine. I always say that is my goal. Why aim for less?"