Formula One
 Sunday, July 2
Coulthard gets testy with Schumacher
 Associated Press

MAGNY-COURS, France -- David Coulthard wanted to pass, and Michael Schumacher wouldn't let him. So Coulthard, like a highway driver with a case of road rage, greeted his Formula One rival with a clenched fist and an obscene gesture.

David Coulthard
David Coulthard offers a different sort of gesture after winning the French Grand Prix.

Schumacher got the message. The next time Coulthard tried to pass him, Schumacher let the British driver by on the way to victory in Sunday's French Grand Prix, his third win of the season.

"I won the race and I am delighted about it, but I just don't think Michael was very sporting in the way he drove on the track," said Coulthard, who later apologized for the gestures.

The McLaren-Mercedes driver may have won anyway. Schumacher, the season leader, had to quit 13 laps before the end of the 72-lap race on the 2.64-mile Nevers Magny-Cours circuit with smoke billowing from his red Ferrari.

"I am disappointed, but this is motor racing and there is nothing you can do about it," said Schumacher, who has five victories this season. "I had said the championship wasn't over, and unfortunately today I was proven right."

Coulthard finished in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 5.538 seconds, for an average speed of 116.283 mph. He beat McLaren teammate Mika Hakkinen by 14.7 seconds and Rubens Barrichello, in a Ferrari, by 32.4.

Coulthard's ninth career victory earned him 10 points and allowed him to cut Schumacher's lead in the championship race to 12 points, 56-44, with eight events on the 17-race schedule remaining.

Hakkinen, two-time defending champion, remained third for the season with 38 points.

Schumacher had the lead on Lap 34 when Coulthard first tried to pass in a hairpin corner. The German seemed to move to the outside, blocking Coulthard, who started waving his fist and middle finger.

"I have to apologize for my gestures. It's not at all in keeping with the sport," Coulthard said. "But as you can understand, my emotions were obviously running high.

"I though I had a clean run on Michael on the outside and equally I felt he drove me wide. It made me angry, but he was within rules."

Six laps later, Coulthard finally managed to overtake the German, moving from inside in another chicane. The two touched wheels as the Briton pulled ahead.

Schumacher then had to stay ahead of Hakkinen, who moved into second place as Schumacher's engine failed on Lap 59.

"I don't know why is David getting upset," Schumacher said. "It's natural that I want to defend my place. Of course, he'll see it differently."

Barrichello squeezed into second place at the start, ahead of Coulthard and behind Schumacher, who started from the pole position.

But the Ferrari drivers were both having tire problems and could never open a sizable lead over the McLarens.

On Lap 22, Coulthard went past Barrichello to start putting pressure on Schumacher.

Schumacher was forced to retire with an engine problem for the second time this season. It also happened in Monte Carlo one month ago, when Coulthard won the race as well.

Coulthard, 29, also won the British GP in April, before he survived a plane crash in early May that killed the pilot. Over the weekend, McLaren extended Coulthard's contract for at least another year.


French Grand Prix results