David Coulthard insists Red Bull Racing must raise its game in Formula 1 in 2008, by finishing in at least fourth position in the constructors' world championship.

The Scot ended the 2007 campaign tenth in the drivers' standings - four points and two positions ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, and with a best result of fourth place in the rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix held at Mount Fuji. Though the pair's seven points-scoring performances between them were enough to hoist RBR up to fifth spot in the constructors' title chase - the best in the Milton Keynes-based outfit's short history in the top flight - Coulthard is well aware it could have been rather better still but for a costly lack of reliability, particularly in the early part of the season.

"We weren't as competitive as we would have liked to have been," he admitted, speaking to Crash.net Radio, "but nonetheless we saw a performance improvement towards the end of the year, and obviously that's what we're hoping we can build on as we look towards the 2008 season.

"I think [the biggest highlight was] the way the team picked up in the closing stages of the year. Obviously the ultimate high was the podium for Mark at the N?rburgring, and for the rest it was finishing fifth in the constructors', which was our target."

"The aim for next year is a minimum of fourth place in the constructors', and that means we have to beat other manufacturer teams. It's going to be challenging, but that's the target."

'DC' has now begun a staggering 228 grands prix over the course of his 14-year career in the uppermost echelon, making him the second-most experienced driver in active F1 competition and fourth in the all-time list. Whilst he is adamant age shall not wither - at 36, he is also the oldest driver on the current grid - he remains convinced his experience can only be of benefit to the still young team, particularly with the ban on electronic driver aids coming in for 2008.

"I love to race," he stressed, speaking to the media ahead of his appearance in the end-of-season Race of Champions spectacular at Wembley Stadium on 16 December, "and that hasn't changed just because I've gained a bit of age. I've also gained a lot of experience in that time. If you're thinking about what to do after racing then obviously you should stop because then you're mentally retired, but we had a great example of a grand prix that was incredibly difficult in Japan - you couldn't see anything - and I had my best result of the year there because I'm a racer and I'm committed. I'm enjoying the challenge of helping to move Red Bull from seventh in the constructors' when I started to what will hopefully be by the time I finish significantly higher up.

"You can gain a lot from a good test. Put it this way - you can do ten days of testing and sometimes learn nothing from nine of those days because the car's got problems or there are software issues or the wind's blowing the wrong direction or whatever, and then on the other day you can do maybe only 50 laps, but every one of those laps is gold dust because you're just bolting things on the car and getting answers.

"One of the biggest difficulties in our sport is to put something new on the car and get a factual answer - yes it's quicker or no it's not. It's like 'why does a golfer not always play his best round every time he goes out?' It's because there are other variables - the wind, water on the grass, how much he had to drink the night before... There are so many other things that can also play a part.

"I never really understood when I was a young test-driver why a team would put a young guy in to test the car, because they have no experience. I've always tested my own car, because I don't want some kid in there who doesn't know what it's like to be on lap 58 in Budapest when it's hot and sweaty and the team are saying 'Push'. He doesn't know what you need from the car, whereas I do and I want to experience that for myself.

"In theory, [the ban on driver aids should benefit] the guys who have little experience of traction control, so the newer guys, someone like Lewis (Hamilton) maybe, but I think in reality traction control is overplayed in its contribution to one lap. It does play a part over a race distance when it comes to tyre wear, but I think the biggest influence will be on engine braking. You'll see more sideways action on the entry into corners and guys spinning down escape roads and things like that. It should be more exciting!"




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