Coulthard to use start system rejected by Jordan
David Coulthard will make the short trip from his apartment to the Formula One paddock this Sunday morning hoping for a re-run of his day's work this time last year when the Scot took his first grand prix win in his adopted home.
Last year Coulthard went into this race, the glittering jewel in F1's crown, with the possibility of becoming a contender in the championship shake-up. This year the stakes are higher. After winning in Austria two weeks ago, the perennial second fiddler at McLaren has been handed the baton. Even team principal Ron Dennis, a firm supporter of former world champion Mika Hakkinen, has admitted Coulthard is now the prime mover in the Mercedes-powered team's bid to reclaim the drivers' title from Michael Schumacher and the constructors' crown from Ferrari.
Coulthard says he will use the controversial launch control systems, which have caused chaos on the grids since their reintroduction. Coulthard and teammate Hakkinen, among others, have been left rooted to the grid, but the Scot says the launch control can help. "I expect to use the launch control here. It's quicker, no question," he said, adding, "I think you have to maximise everything you have".
Coulthard knows he has to take every advantage available to him, however risky. This, after all, is Schumacher territory. The world champion arrives here in search of his fifth victory at the ultra-demanding street circuit, a feat that would put him on a par with Britain's Graham Hill, known in his heyday as "Mr Monaco", and one shy of Ayrton Senna's total of six wins.
Despite Schumacher's admission earlier this week that the Scot is now his biggest rival, Coulthard still insisted that his new-found status as number one contender would not affect him.
"It doesn't change anything," he said. "I'm just taking the races as they come and trying to do the best I can, because I still think we have a lot of work to do. I don't think we have the best package out there on the track at the moment and we've got to concentrate on that."
While Coulthard indicated that he would, if possible, use launch control for Sunday's start, Jordan have said their drivers will opt for a conventional getaway.
The Jordans have been plagued with problems with their system since Barcelona, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen's start wrecked by a malfunctioning launch controller and Jarno Trulli suffering a similar software glitch in Austria, when his car stalled on the grid.
While the team claim to have identified and rectified the problems, joint managing director Trevor Foster admitted that Monaco presented a particular problem which will prevent the team from using the programmes.
"For the launch control system to be fully effective, it's important to carry out practice starts at individual circuits, which is not possible in Monaco as the pit exit is too narrow."
Jordan's choice of a driver-controlled start is in keeping with concerns voiced last weekend by Max Mosley. The FIA president expressed his doubts about the reliability of the teams' launch control systems in the wake of the Austrian debacle and suggested that if teams were in any doubt about the reliability of their systems they should not use them on race day.