Veteran F1 ace David Coulthard has not been confirmed for McLaren-Mercedes' 2004 season because the Woking team wants to secure Juan-Pablo Montoya's services, a report suggests.

Veteran F1 ace David Coulthard has not been confirmed for McLaren-Mercedes' 2004 season because the Woking team wants to secure Juan-Pablo Montoya's services, a report suggests.


Williams-BMW still has the 27-year-old under contract for one more season, but it is believed by the BBC that McLaren-Mercedes will make a serious bid to lure him away.


While McLaren has yet to confirm the Scot as its second driver for next season, alongside championship contender Kimi Raikkonen, it is thought unlikely that Williams-BMW's team boss Frank Williams would allow Montoya, who is technically contracted until the end of 2004, to go before his contract ends.


Montoya, who has two victories to his name since he made his debut in 2001, including this season's Monaco Grand Prix, and was third in the drivers' standings last year, has been keen to see his salary increased because he is paid a lot less than his German team-mate, Ralf Schumacher.


A source close to Williams-BMW told the BBC it was "highly unlikely" Montoya would leave the team at the end of this year. Besides, McLaren could face a battle with Toyota, which has also expressed an interest in signing Montoya if and when he becomes available.


While McLaren chief Ron Dennis is good friends with fellow team owner Sir Frank, it has not stopped him from taking away his rival's prime sources of income before.


In the '80s, he lured away one of Williams' biggest sponsors, the TAG Group, and a few years later persuaded engine supplier Honda to jump ship, leaving Williams struggling with customer engines in 1988. However, McLaren refused to comment publicly on the speculation surrounding its drivers line-up.


"There is a lot of speculation about drivers in F1 and we are not in the business of commenting on it," said managing director Martin Whitmarsh. "When or if there's anything to say, we'll say it."

Original article from Car