| ||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.
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
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
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
Barrichello squeezed into second place at the start, ahead of
Coulthard and behind Schumacher, who started from the pole
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
|David Coulthard offers a different sort of gesture after winning the French Grand Prix.|| |
French Grand Prix results