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Coulthard plays it down in Melbourne 06 Mar 2003

David Coulthard (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-17 finished the race in fourth place.
Belgian Grand Prix, Rd14, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 1 September 2002

This time last year David Coulthard was brimful of hope of launching a world championship challenge. A year on, he admits that caution is the watchword.

"In 2002 I really came here expecting from winter testing that we would have a great chance," he admitted today. "This year I am coming here hopeful that we can become the second best team and get back in front of Williams. Going from third to first is just a dream.

"The reality is that we have to take things in steps. Ferrari has been quicker than us in every winter test and under any normal performance they will be quicker than us. And they have incredible reliability."

Coulthard does not believe that the true picture of 2003's pecking order will be apparent until Sunday, thanks to the new qualifying regulations and the need for teams to plan their refuelling strategy for the race as part of the Saturday qualifying session.

"The weather will be important, too. I can see teams actually having one car fast and one slow on Friday to cover both bases should the weather be iffy on Saturday, the Scot suggested. "But whatever happens, I think by Sunday evening we'll all be aware of the pecking order."

"More than anything, I'm mindful that high expectations can lead to big disappointments."