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Reality check for McLaren after Monaco win


David Coulthard's Monaco Grand Prix win revived McLaren's Formula One season but the euphoria is likely to be short-lived.

The Scot described his first success in more than a year as "another twist in the show" but it was one that McLaren, starved of victories since September 2001, cannot expect again in a hurry.

Monaco is a very special circuit, a street fighting battleground where overtaking is extremely difficult and qualifying crucial.

The next outing in Montreal promises to be very different, with world champions Ferrari and closest rivals Williams ready to clamber back in the driving seat.

"We should be competitive in Hungary (in August) and two or three other circuits but we are under no illusions," warned team boss Ron Dennis. "Canada is going to be painful.

"Canada is going to be extremely tough for us for a variety of reasons but we're not going to let that spoil this moment. We know where we are going to be competitive."

Technical director Adrian Newey agreed: "Realistically, the only other race we have got a chance of winning this year is Hungary. Unless it is a lucky win...we haven't got much chance on any circuit with long straights."

Both the Schumachers, Ferrari's world champion Michael and Ralf, were on the front row in Canada last year with the younger German sibling winning in his Williams. That battle could well be repeated this season but in the meantime Coulthard provided a breath of fresh air after a run of wins by the Schumacher family and Ferrari and controversy in the last race in Austria.

Michael had won four races in a row in the new F2002 -- the last one sparking a worldwide furore when it was gifted to him in Austria by Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello.

The Schumachers have swept everything since McLaren's Mika Hakkinen won at Indianapolis in September and Coulthard thwarted Michael's plans to celebrate his 100th Ferrari start with their 150th win.

"That has got to be good for Formula One because in a World Cup football year, we have to do something interesting to keep the viewers," said Coulthard.

"It restored Formula One's credibility in many respects because it was such an exciting race all the way through," said rival team boss Eddie Jordan. "Even the battle for sixth place, the battle for fifth place, for fourth... all in all it was a testament to Formula One and showed what it can be."

McLaren also showed that, while the team may not have the most powerful engine, they are fighting back.

"I think our start control system comfortably outperformed the BMW-Williams and gave David the ability to take the lead really without any effort," said Dennis, who praised Coulthard's unwavering commitment. "When we have so clearly not given him the equipment to win in the earlier races, that hasn't put him under pressure because he knows he's doing his bit."

© By Alan Baldwin - Reuters


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