Exclusive - Coulthard on his preferred successor 08 Jul 2008
It was bound to happen sooner or later, but when Red Bulls David Coulthard announced he would retire from competitive Formula One racing at the end of the season, it still sent shockwaves throughout the Silverstone paddock. A firm fixture for over 14 years, Coulthard will be sorely missed in 2009.
Following his final British Grand Prix, the Scot spoke exclusively to Formula1.com about his retirement, his future plans and who he would like to see take over his Red Bull cockpit...
Q: David, when did you decide that 2008 would be your swansong Formula One season?
David Coulthard: Earlier in the year I had the feeling that the time was going to be right, so there was not one special morning when I woke up and decided. Afterwards I had some conversations with my fiancee Karen (Minier) and then I made up my mind that I had the energy and enthusiasm to finish this season, but I was wondering about starting another. And all of that told me that it was the right time. So I am very happy to stop well before the enjoyment does, rather than wishing I were somewhere else.
Q: Have you competed at races differently this season, knowing that it will be the last time you race on the tracks?
DC: Not really, honestly. If you look at the year so far I was getting involved in little incidents, so I was still fighting. That shows that I am still determined to push all the way until the end. And that maybe costs me a little bit of damage, but Id rather be seen as still trying, than having given up. But maybe in Monaco, when I was walking home from a friends boat, I felt sad that this time was the last time. I really loved the challenge of racing in Monaco.
Q: If you look back at your career, what were the best - and worst - moments?
DC: Of course the best moments are winning. That is a wonderful feeling that cant be beaten. Outside of winning, the best moments are working with a team of people. There are so many, like engineers and mechanics that are working hard. The worst moments of course are dealing with some of the politics which are involved in Formula One. When I left McLaren after nine seasons I had a tear in my eye at the Brazil race. But I think it is better to leave with some emotions rather than with a feeling of relief. I have had many relationships in my life, both with teams and partners. And every relationship has been full of commitment, energy and love. So I feel very fulfilled in my life so far.
Q: You have driven for many of the front running teams but you never clinched a championship, even though often your team mates did. Why do you think that is?
DC: Well I clearly had the opportunity of driving world championship-winning cars, but I never managed to hold the level of consistency needed to extract every last bit from it, even though I had the speed. And this is now something I just have to deal with for the rest of my life. I won races, and enjoyed a wonderful win at Silverstone, with Michael (Schumacher) and Mika (Hakkinen) standing beside me. Two great champions of Formula One that I was able to beat that day. But it is not only important what a driver does on a Sunday. There is a lot of work away from the track. That was the reason why I enjoyed such a long spell at McLaren. They knew I worked well and I worked hard to bring the team forward.
Q: You have had many team mates throughout your Formula One career. Have any become longstanding friends?
DC: Well, I dont have regular contact with any of my former team mates. Maybe because of a special reason that I cant describe. But there is always a bond that does not go away.
Q: Alongside your racing career, you have also built up a successful life as a businessman. Where will your skills take you in the future? And where will Formula One racing be in your future plans?
DC: Yes, you are right. I have several investment projects like my four hotels and my helmet project. Formula One has given me a very good life and I am very thankful for that. My primary interest still lies within motorsport and within Formula One, so I have agreed to become a consultant with Red Bull Racing. Also on the side of the media, I can contribute a lot, as I have the knowledge of what its like inside a team.
Q: You will leave your Red Bull cockpit after the chequered flag in Brazil. Who do you hope will fill it?
DC: For me Sebastian Vettel has everything that a future winner in Formula One needs. Also his maturity and approach shows me that he is the best man for the job. So I am very confident that he would be able to do a very good job for Red Bull Racing.
Q: Before Lewis Hamiltons victory at Silverstone on Sunday, you were the last British driver to win the British Grand Prix. Are you sad that there is now another Brit on the list of winners at the track?
DC: No, absolutely not. I did not mind that Lewis (Hamilton) won the race. It was great for British motorsport. It was sad that my last running on this track was over on Lap One, but then again - thats racing - the victory of nerve and flexibility over pure strategy.