After 14 years in the industry and with his home Grand Prix just days away David Coulthard has announced his retirement from Formula 1 as a driver at the end of the 2008 season. David has expressed an interest in staying with the team in a testing and development role. He has been quoted as saying:
“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, I have an open mind as to whether or not I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motorsport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet!"
David Coulthard started his career in F1 over 14 years ago with Williams in 1993, this was when Williams snapped him up as a test driver. He stayed in this position until the death of Ayrton Senna and this is when he was promoted to a full driver seat with team mate Damon Hill. This season didn’t go so well and he took second fiddle to another Brit, Nigel Mansell. It wasn’t till the next year in 1995 that Mansell went to McLaren and DC took his first GP win at Estoril, Portugal.
It was his first win in Portugal that sparked probably the best move in his career by moving to McLaren where a struggling Nigel Mansell was on his way out to make way for Mark Blundell who David would play test driver for the next season. So comes 1996, the year that David was posted alongside McLaren Legend Mika Hakinnen. While DC never ever did find the pace and manage to secure that elusive World Championship he did go through his most successful spell with McLaren winning 12 Grand Prix.
Did you know? – DC is the highest scoring British driver ever with 533 points (Correct at time of writing – 3rd July 2008)
So to current times, DC left McLaren to go to Red Bull in 2005. In the eyes of the team I am sure he will go down as an all time great scoring the teams first ever podium finish in 2006 at the legendary Monaco his current place of residence.
This season has been an eventful one which has seen him slicing and dicing with numerous drivers, Jensen Button and Felipe Massa, it has seen him crash out in Monaco, and it has seen him score a podium in Canada. But most of all in my opinion it has seen some classic Coulthard quotes, including the backlash on Felipe Massa after their coming together in Australia:
DC on Massa – “I admit I did the same thing to Alex (Wurz) last year, but I admitted it and apologised. He had better. If he doesn't, I'll knock three colours of shit out of the little bastard”
Don’t cross with DC, he is one tough guy. A tough guy that will be bowing out, hanging up his gloves and race overalls... For now, will we ever see him behind the wheel of an F1 car again?
David Coulthard Statement (In Full)
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. I have an open mind as to whether or not I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motorsport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet!
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.
There are many people who have played a part in my career and I would like to list a few of them below;
- My parents whose energy and encouragement through my entire career has been amazing
- Dave Boyce who guided me through Karting
- David Leslie Senior and Junior for teaching me how to set up and race a car
- Sir Jackie and Paul Stewart for putting me through their ‘staircase of talent’
- Sir Frank Williams and Williams Renault for having the faith to promote me from test driver to race driver, which lead to my first GP victory
- Ron Dennis and the McLaren team where I spent nine seasons and achieved the majority of my success.
- Norbert Haug and Mercedes for being racers through and through
- Dietrich Mateschitz and his Red Bull Racing team for providing me with the chance to contribute to the development of a new team, while continuing to compete and add to my tally of podiums
- Christian Horner for his open and professional management style in association with Helmut Marko
- Bernie Ecclestone for providing such a strong platform for us all to develop our skills and be able to call ourselves professionals. In years to come, my future family will still be thanking him for the financial success of F1
- My management team of Martin Brundle and David Cawthorne in association with Annette Hutchinson and Iain Cunningham for providing their valued opinions.
- There have been three teams but only one designer, so Adrian Newey deserves special thanks for all the champagne that I have sprayed
- And last but not least, all the media, officials, marshals, medical support, mechanics, engineers, sponsors, lawyers, accountants and back room staff that I have worked with during this period.
DC’s team principle Christian Horner re-enforced just how much he means to the team by adding the following:
“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.”
“He scored our first point, our first podium and was the first of our drivers to lead a grand prix. Above all, he is a gentleman and I regard him as a good friend. Within the team there’s a huge amount of respect for David. His retirement brings to a close not just his career as a grand prix racing driver but also a chapter in the history of Formula One, if one considers the changes the sport has been through while he has been involved with it.”
“Now he heads off to face a new challenge. Red Bull Racing will still be utilising his services and he will on occasion drive the car in test sessions for us so that we can draw upon his vast experience and knowledge. He will be involved as a consultant to the team and to the technical group as we look to extract the maximum from his considerable experience of Formula One. I don’t think he will be struggling to fill his time!”
David Coulthard Facts
- Nationality – British
- Date of Birth – 27/03/71
- Races – 237
- Wins – 13
- Podium Finishes – 62
- Pole Positions – 12
- Career Points – 533
- Fastest Laps – 18
- First Race – Spanish GP 1994
- First Win – Portuguese GP 1995
A lot of speculation has surrounded DC just lately with regards to his career, rumours have been circulating that he would retire and become a pundit for the BBC when they re-gain the F1 viewing rights next season. Many have said that he will feature in a role high up within the FIA on the admin side of things maybe working as some kind of advisor in key decisions. A rumour was recently heard that he would go to finish his career alongside Hamilton at McLaren Mercedes and finally another good rumour was that he would go to Renault in the place of the struggling Nelson Piquet Jnr to act as Fernando Alonso's rear gunner. I suppose all these rumours go out of the window in light of this news and the facts are now in black and white that David will stay on at Red Bull as a consultant.
In another twist to the tale, just hours after this announcement Red Bull released details that the opposite number to DC, Mark Webber has had his contract extended until the 2009 season however they are yet to confirm who will replace DC in the number 2 seat with Red Bull.
Mark Webber (Red Bull) – “I’m very happy to have signed up for another year with Red Bull Racing so early in the season, As far back as the middle of last year, it was very clear to me that I enjoyed working with the team, playing my part in its development and helping it move forward. So far this year, our reliability has improved and that’s allowed us to exploit our performance. The progress the team has made in the last ten months has been excellent and I am looking forward to carrying that momentum through to the end of the season.”
“Continuing with Red Bull Racing for 2009 was a very easy decision for me to make, as I enjoy being part of this team and that has shown through in my driving. It’s very difficult to predict how any team will perform in twelve months time, but we have some clever people here, with a stable team and I believe 2009 will see us in even better shape for next year, when the technical regulations go through a major change.”
Christian Horner who has already had a busy day with the DC announcement added the following:
“Earlier in the season both parties expressed a desire to continue working together and so it was a very quick and short discussion that led to an extension of our agreement. Mark has driven fantastically well this year. He has really demonstrated that he is a world class driver and this year the team has been able to give him the tools to endorse that fact.”
“While all our efforts are currently concentrated on maintaining our fourth place in the constructors’ championship, the next challenge facing us is to make the big step and challenge the top three teams and we believe Mark is absolutely the right guy to have in the car to help us achieve that.”
So there you have it, today’s press conference on goings, what do you make of DC’s decision to retire? How do you feel about Mark Webbers contract extension till 2009? Who do you think will fill DC’s car at Red Bull? Do you think that DC’s decision will help him in the back end of the season with the lack of pressure now on him to secure a race seat next season? There are a couple of talking points to get things kicked off, comments and scores as usual guys.
Ben, Over and Out!
PS - I have said it before and I will say it again ... F1 testing photo's are now on my website for you to check out ... Give it the once over ! www.benauty.co.uk