Coulthard leads race into unknown 20 Oct 2004
Will Brazil be McLaren ace's final Grand Prix?
When the chequered flag falls at Interlagos on Sunday, several of the current Formula One drivers will head into the off-season uncertain of their future. McLarens David Coulthard is just one of six drivers without a confirmed seat for 2005, though the Scot insists he has no plans to retire - even if it means a sabbatical.
Coulthard has spent the last nine years at McLaren and this weekends Brazilian Grand Prix will be his 150th start for the team - no man has driven more races for one constructor - before he stands aside to make way for Juan Pablo Montoya.
There is no denying that Brazil will be a weekend of mixed emotions for me, as it has been a great nine seasons with the team, said Coulthard ahead of the Interlagos round, which he won in 2001.
Reluctant to accept a testing role for 2005, Coulthard has not been shy in offering up his race services for next season. However, with the sale of Jaguar and the uncertainty surrounding Jenson Button not helping matters, there would appear to be nothing immediate on the horizon.
I believe I have the pace, desire and ability to be competitive, and as I have stated I am not ready to retire, he added. I am continuing to try and get a drive next year, but if I dont then Ill try the following year.
Coulthard is not the only experienced driver with limited choices for 2005 - Nick Heidfelds Jordan seat has not been reconfirmed. The German, a veteran of 84 Grands Prix, is doubtless another keeping a very close eye on the BAR-Williams battle for Button. Whether those teams are keeping an eye on Heidfeld is a different question.
And what of Jaguars Christian Klien, Jordans Timo Glock and the Minardi pairing of Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni? Trying to predict their Formula One future is a thankless task at this stage, as the teams at the lower end of the grid often leave their driver announcements until well into the New Year.
However, we could yet see some clarity before the season is out. With a verdict on the Button-gate affair expected today, Interlagos could still provide a suitable setting for the last high-profile driver announcements of the 2004 campaign.