DAVID Coulthard will join the Grand Prix motor racing elite at

Barcelona next Sunday as team mate to Damon Hill in the Williams/

Renault Formula One team, replacing Brazilian Ayrton Senna, killed at

Imola on May 1.

The 23-year-old Scotsman's elevation from test driver to Grand Prix

racer should be announced on the eve of Spanish Grand Prix qualifying

next Thursday, unless a final test session at Jerez proves unsuccessful

over the next four days.

Coulthard has already covered more than 2500 miles testing the

Williams cars during the past 12 months.

A statement from the Didcot-based Williams Grand Prix Engineering

organisation revealed yesterday that Hill, 33, and Coulthard would spend

from today until Tuesday testing the cars, which incorporate aerodynamic

modifications decreed after Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger died

during the San Marino Grand Prix weekend.

Team founder Frank Williams would not confirm that Coulthard will

drive Rothman's Williams-Renault Number Two at Barcelona, but stated

that a news conference was planned in Spain for Thursday.

Intense speculation has surrounded who will drive for Williams, with

Italian veteran Riccardo Patrese, 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell

(currently racing Indy cars in the US), and Ferrari regular Jean Alesi

of France all featuring.

Coulthard, with 39 race wins to his credit, pulled out of Monday's

F3000 race at Pau to answer Williams's call. He immediately nominated

his countryman Allan McNish, Dumfries, as his replacement in the Vortex


Unless there is a last-minute hitch Coulthard and Hill will form the

first Anglo-Scottish Grand Prix duo since Hill's father, Graham,and Jim

Clark drove together for Lotus during 1967 and the first race of 1968.

Scotland's last Grand Prix driver was Johnny Dumfries, now the Marquis

of Bute, who was No. 2 Lotus driver to Ayrton Senna during the 1986


Benetton's German driver, Michale Schumacher, has dominated the first

four F1 races this season, while Hill's tally stands at seven points

with a second and sixth place to his credit.

The Herald has supported Coulthard in F3 and F3000, with the Twynholm

driver, from near Kirkcudbright, carrying the newspaper's decals on his