THE future of Formula One driver David Coulthard will be decided today

by a panel of lawyers in Geneva.

Bernie Ecclestone, president of the Formula One Constructors'

Association, confirmed last night that a meeting of the sport's

Contracts Recognition Board would take place.

The 23-year-old Scot is understood to have signed a deal with the

McLaren team, while Williams claim he is under contract to them.

The confirmation of the board's meeting ended a day of speculation

sparked by reports that McLaren had snatched Coulthard from their


Neither team would comment or confirm Coulthard had signed a contract

with them, nor would they confirm or deny that the Contracts Recognition

Board would be meeting.

It is believed Williams feel their prolonged contract with Coulthard

was binding, since it was extended beyond the end of the 1994 racing

season, at the time when it is understood the Scot signed for McLaren.

The outcome of the board meeting will decide which team has the valid

contract, and may help resolve the line-ups of many other Formula One

teams as well.

If McLaren, who won a similar dispute with Lotus over the future of

Finland's Mika Hakkinen in 1992, are successful, Coulthard will line up

alongside Hakkinen while former champion Nigel Mansell teams up with

Damon Hill at Williams.

If Williams win, they will probably race Coulthard with Hill, although

the admiration for Mansell from their French engine suppliers, Renault,

is such that it is possible the 41-year-old Englishman could also be


Patrick Faure, the president of Renault Sport, said of Mansell: ''His

results speak for themselves. For someone making his return to Formula

One after two years in IndyCar racing and with very little time for

practice, I think Nigel's is a fine example of success.''

Faure's admiration for Mansell was one of the main reasons the Briton

was brought back for a one-race appearance at the French Grand Prix and

for the final three races of the year, culminating in his victory at the

Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide.