by Russell Atkins

David Coulthard has admitted Red Bull Racing threw away a golden opportunity to rack up points at the start of the 2007 campaign through poor reliability, but he is confident the squad will not make the same mistake again in 2008.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit has seen the Adrian Newey-designed RB3 fail to finish in eight of its 14 starts so far this year in the hands of both the Scot and team-mate Mark Webber, with many of those retirements coming when the drivers were in points-paying positions. Now the big-hitters have got their acts together reliability-wise, Coulthard fears, the pickings are rather fewer and farther between.

"I think the top six slots are pretty much taken," he told during testing at Silverstone this week. "Where we are at the moment, just getting a point or two is the challenge. That's the difficulty we are facing - McLaren, Ferrari and BMW all look very strong, and we are battling with Renault who look like they've taken a step forward recently.

"We've missed more points at the beginning of the year than might be available now, but the wonderful thing about F1 is you just never know what's going to happen."

With that in mind, the 36-year-old - since Michael Schumacher's departure at the end of last year the oldest driver on the starting grid - spent his day at the Northamptonshire circuit concentrating on general set-up work ahead of the forthcoming back-to-back French and British Grands Prix, and joked there had been "nothing scary" in the way of problems along the way following all of RBR's early-season woes.

"It was good," he underlined. "We just ran through the programme and didn't encounter any big issues. It's always a bit of everything at these tests, and we had some mechanical updates as well as some aerodynamic stuff. The proof will come when we get to the race.

"The focus for his year has to be to score as many points as we can, while continuing to build up the knowledge within the team to make sure we've got a solid base for next year's car. Everything we do this year will be a foundation for 2008, but it all takes time."



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