As some have expected since the start of 2008, this season will officially be David Coulthard’s last in Formula One. The Scot has announced his retirement ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix in a statement released earlier today, and the successful driver has received numurous words of praise from those who have worked with him. Coulthard wil race with Red Bull until the end of the year and remain on at the team in a consultancy role, testing and developing the cars.
Coulthard entered Formula One in difficult circumstances back in 1994; he was Ayrton Senna’s co-replacement, sharing the drive with Nigel Mansell. Senna had tragically died at the Imola circuit in one of the sport’s most traumatic weekends, but the Scot took on the role as team mate to Damon Hill and competed in eight of the remaining twelve races.
Coulthard only won one race with the Oxfordshire-based team before moving to McLaren in 1996. At the time the team was still in a slump and hadn’t achieved much success since the early nineties. However, the team were improving and in his nine years at Woking (longer than any other McLaren driver), David took a further twelve victories, bringing his tally up to thirteen.
In 2005, Coulthard left McLaren and many feared his career was over. However, the Scot managed to get a drive with the newly-formed Red Bull team, the energy drinks company having just bought the failed Jaguar project which originally came from Stewart Grand Prix, founded by fellow Scottish racer Jackie Stewart. In his time at Red Bull, Coulthard’s career was re-born and he has driven some of his best races for the Milton Keynes team. Coulthard appeared more relaxed and happier with the squad than he did in his latter years at McLaren and his to-date two podiums for the team have been well-deserved.
I would like to announce today my decision to retire from racing in Formula One at the end of this season. I will remain actively involved in the sport as a consultant to Red Bull Racing focusing on testing and development of the cars.
My decision to retire was taken earlier in the year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive and enjoying the immense challenge that Grand Prix driving represents. I also have the desire to look for new challenges within the sport.
The decision to make this announcement at the British GP should be an obvious one for all to understand, as I have achieved two of my thirteen F1 victories at Silverstone and I am a member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which hosts this event.
I am proud of my work at Red Bull Racing and will continue to race with the same focus until the last lap in Brazil. Thereafter I will continue to help the team develop and move towards their ultimate goal of winning races. David Coulthard
Coulthard went on to thank many of the people who have helped him in his career, adding a special thanks to the person who has designed (nearly*) all the cars he has driven – Adrian Newey, and also stated that he does not intend to hang up his helmet entirely, and hinted that he may compete in other forms of motor sport.
Working with David has been an absolute pleasure and his contribution to the team over the past four seasons has been significant.
He is a consummate professional and I think that one of the key elements to the length of his career is the dedication he has applied and the commitment he has shown to the team.
He has demonstrated that he is a real team player, a fact reinforced by the statistic that he has only driven for two other F1 teams in his career. To date, he has won thirteen grands prix and there could have been many more if you count the near misses and the ones he gifted to other drivers. Christian Horner.
Christian Horner, team boss at Red Bull, alluring in his final sentence to the final race of 1997 at Jerez and first of 1998 in Australia where Coulthard allowed team mate Mika Hakkinen to win. The first was, I believe, an order from McLaren, the second is said to have been a gentleman’s agreement made prior to the race-start between the pair.
Coulthard has enjoyed a long career in Formula One and one that has seen many successes. While David may not have been the most naturally-talented driver in the field, he has shown, as Horner states, professionalism and a deep drive for success. I will remember David most for his battles with Michael Schumacher; the Scot rarely took any stick from the multiple world champion and refused to duck-and-hide when the Ferrari came roaring up behind him (or vice versa). The pair would often share paint and rubber, and it is these on-track skirmishes that stick in my mind. His two British Grand Prix victories will no doubt be Coulthard’s personal proudest moments, and I’m sure with a large fanbase, many others remember many different things from his fifteen years and (to be) 246 race starts.
Whether you’re a fan or not, what wil you remember David Coulthard for the most? A particular race or season, a battle with another driver or overtaking move? Perhaps it was an interview he gave or something he said to the press? Leave a comment below and hopefully we can share some of Coulthard’s finer moments from his long career in Formula One.
*Coulthard’s first McLaren, the MP4-11 was designed by Neil Oatley, and Coulthard’s first Red Bull couldn’t have been designed by Newey as the aerodynamicist didn’t join the squad until February 2006.