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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Angry Coulthard Comes First in France




MAGNY-COURS, France -- Waving his clenched fist in anger and directing an obscene gesture well-known to all drivers at Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard was having a classic case of road rage.


The next time Coulthard tried to pass him, Schumacher stayed on his line and Coulthard moved past to go on and win the French Grand Prix on Sunday for his third Formula One victory 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, since Schumacher had to retire 13 laps before the end of the 72-lap race on the 4.25-kilometer Nevers Magny-Cours circuit with smoke bellowing out of his red Ferrari.


Coulthard's ninth career victory earned him 10 points and allowed him to cut Schumacher's lead in the Formula One championship to 12 points.


With the 17-race season now in its second half, Coulthard has 44 points, while Schumacher leads with 56.


Mika Hakkinen, two-time defending champion who completed a 1-2 McLaren finish by coming in second, remains third with 38.


Rubens Barrichello of Brazil saved some honor for Ferrari by finishing third.


"I am disappointed, but this is motor racing, and there is nothing you can do about it," said Schumacher, who had won five of the previous eight races this season.


"I had said the championship wasn't over, and unfortunately, today I was proven right," said the German, a two-time champion.


With the two McLarens in hot pursuit of Schumacher's leading Ferrari, Coulthard first tried to pass Schumacher in a hairpin corner on lap 34 but the German closed the door, prompting angry and obscene gestures from Coulthard.


"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 thought 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," Coulthard said.


"You could say he has the right to do that because he has the track position," Coulthard said, although he made clear he did not approve of Schumacher's maneuver.


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


Schumacher then had to fight off an attack by Hakkinen, who moved into second place as Schumacher's engine failed in lap 59.


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


Until Coulthard's move to pass Schumacher, the race had been relatively uneventful - except for some drama at the start, when Barrichello squeezed into second place ahead of Coulthard and behind Schumacher in 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.


After Barrichello's second pit stop took nearly 17 seconds to fix his right front wheel, Barrichello fell to fourth, where he stayed until Schumacher's retirement.


"Coulthard was very fast on the straight and put me under pressure under braking, and eventually he got past me when I ran wide at a turn," Barrichello said.


Coulthard beat Hakkinen by 14.7 seconds and Barrichello by 32.4.


Hakkinen has won only one race this season, and Coulthard may be taking over as the No. 1 driver of the team.


"Today's results were fantastic for David, fantastic for the team and fantastic for me," the Finn said. "As the race went on, I knew I had the pace to pass Michael and I was just waiting for the right opportunity, which presented itself on lap 59."


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 deadly plane crash in early May. Over the weekend, McLaren extended Coulthard's contract for at least another year.