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Coulthard bows out for McLaren
Alan Baldwin | October 20, 2004 19:51 IST
David Coulthard starts his 150th and final race for McLaren on Sunday, hoping that Brazil is not also his farewell to Formula One.
"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 the Scot.
No other driver has driven more Grands Prix for one team than Coulthard but the partnership will end at Interlagos. What happens next is uncertain, as the 33-year-old is without a contract for 2005.
"I believe I have the pace, desire and ability to be competitive and as I have stated, I am not ready to retire," he said. "I am continuing to try and get a drive next year, but if I don't then I'll try the following year."
Coulthard has won 13 races, more than any active driver other than Ferrari's Michael Schumacher who has won that many this year alone, in a career that started with Williams in 1994.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya was signed as a replacement last year and Jaguar had looked like being Coulthard's best bet until owners Ford announced they were pulling out of Formula One and selling the team.
With that team in limbo and in a race against time to secure their survival, his attention turned to high-flying BAR pending the outcome of that team's contract dispute with Williams over Briton Jenson Button.
There will be other farewells at Interlagos this weekend, with Jaguar hoping to go out on a strong note after five seasons with scant reward.
Ralf Schumacher, bound for Toyota, and Montoya take their leave of Williams while Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, surprise winner for Jordan in Brazil last year, says farewell to Sauber before returning to Renault in 2005.
Brazil offers a last chance for both BAR, virtually assured of second place in the constructors' championship, and fourth-placed Williams.
BAR, enjoying the best season of their Formula One existence, set themselves a target of a first win this year and they have not yet done that. Williams meanwhile have not savoured victory since last year.
"It will be one of our best opportunities to aim for that elusive first win as the circuit should suit our car well," said BAR boss David Richards.
The chances are however that the men spraying the champagne on Sunday will be wearing Ferrari red.
If the winner is Rubens Barrichello, the locals will be delighted and the Sao Paulo native will have finally shrugged off the worst home record in Formula One history -- nine successive retirements in Brazil.
But Schumacher also wants his 14th win of the year.
"Of course we're going to Brazil hoping to win the race," said Schumacher. "What could be better than to go into the winter break with a victory?"
Last year's race was held in April, with a tropical downpour causing chaos on the track and ending the race early amid confusion. Fisichella was declared winner a week after the event when a timing error was detected.
Struggling Jordan, fighting for their future after Ford's decision to sell engine maker Cosworth, cannot hope for lightning to strike twice.
"I treasure that day because anyone would say it is impossible at the moment for a private team to win a race," said Eddie Jordan. "We proved anything is possible and I'm proud."
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