MAGNY-COURS, France (AP) _ David Coulthard will stay with Formula One team McLaren-Mercedes next season _ and possibly beyond.

``We are taking an unprecedented early decision to retain David's services,'' McLaren director Ron Dennis said Friday.

The decision means Coulthard's partnership with Mika Hakkinen will extend into a record sixth season in 2001. The pair already have been the longest driver partnership in Formula One.

Hakkinen, in his eighth season with McLaren, has a long-term contract with the team.

``I think they are going to retire with the team,'' Dennis said.

Coulthard, 29, has two victories this year and trails season leader Michael Schumacher of Ferrari by 22 points.

The British driver has eight career Grand Prix victories, seven with McLaren and one with Williams.

Hakkinen has 14 career victories and captured the Formula One championship the last two years.