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David Coulthard

One of the oldest and most experienced men on the grid, David Coulthard’s renewed partnership with design guru Adrian Newey could yet put him back at the sharp end. When he was dropped by McLaren in 2004, many thought the Scot’s career was over, but his move to newcomers Red Bull has proved something of a tonic. Though substantial results are yet to materialise, the team’s budget - and Coulthard’s undiminished appetite for success - suggests they may not be long coming.

Born into a wealthy Scottish trucking family, Coulthard’s interest in racing began early. Karting from the age of eight, he racked up several Scottish championships before heading south of the border for Formula Ford in 1989. After dominating the junior championships and finishing third in the respected Formula Ford Festival, Coulthard was head-hunted by Paul Stewart Racing for the 1990 Formula Vauxhall-Lotus series. That same year he picked up the prestigious McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award - with its accompanying one-off Formula One test for McLaren.

Still affiliated with Paul Stewart Racing, Coulthard’s next move was the British Formula Three series. In 1991 he finished second to Rubens Barrichello, but more importantly underlined his potential with victories in the Macau Grand Prix and the Marlboro Masters. Two years in Formula 3000 followed - during the first he also tested for Benetton and in the second he became an official Formula One test driver for Williams.

And so he might have stayed throughout the 1994 season, had it not been for the tragic death of Williams’ race driver Ayrton Senna at Imola. Coulthard stepped into the breach, lining up in place of the great Brazilian for the next round in Spain. And if an electrical fault on his FW16 hadn’t caused him to retire, Coulthard would have finished his Grand Prix debut on the podium. He was that quick.

Williams, however, decided to split the seat between Coulthard and the more experienced Nigel Mansell for the rest of the year. Although former champion Mansell won a race, the Scot bettered him in the driver standings, scoring one more point after finishing in the top six in every race he completed. As testament to his talent, Coulthard was retained for 1995 and he came through with a debut win in Portugal and third in the championship. It would, however, be his last year with Williams and in 1996 the Scot headed to McLaren to partner Mika Hakkinen.

The two men would be team mates for the next seven seasons. After a slow start Coulthard seemed to be getting the upper hand over the Finn - he finished the ’97 championship nine points ahead with two wins - but gradually the onus of team leader fell to Hakkinen, who justified the role by taking two drivers’ championships. Only the 2001 season broke the mould, when Coulthard out-drove his team mate to challenge Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher for the title. It would be his finest hour with McLaren.

When Hakkinen retired to be replaced by compatriot Kimi Raikkonen, Coulthard became the team’s number one once more - but only briefly. Raikkonen soon got the measure of his team mate, who found himself increasingly relegated to the shadows and over the next two years he scored just 75 points to the Finn’s 136. It seemed enough was enough, for team and driver alike, and in 2005 Coulthard headed not into retirement, but to a new team - Red Bull Racing.

The move to the fledgling, albeit wealthy, squad was a brave move, but in his first season with Red Bull he scored the same number of points as in his last with McLaren. The following year it was an increasingly relaxed looking Coulthard who took a worthy third place in Monaco to give Red Bull their first podium.

He matched that result at the following season's Canadian Grand Prix before using his home race at Silverstone to announce his plans to retire at the end of 2008, after which he will remain with Red Bull as a consultant, focusing on testing and development.

David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 6 April 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 6 April 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing RB3. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, 28 March 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton
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