David Coulthard on his F1 journey, the need to revitalize the Indian GP and more

David Coulthard is someone who has traversed multiple eras of Formula 1. The Scottish driver came into the sport as a replacement for Ayrton Senna after his fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Over the next 15 years, Coulthard secured 13 race wins and in 2001 finished second in the Drivers’ Championship behind Michael Schumacher.

After joining the newly formed Red Bull Racing in 2005, he marked several firsts for the Austrian squad, including their first podium. His retirement from F1 in 2008 paved the way for Sebastian Vettel to join the Red Bull team. Vettel would then bring in the team’s first championship.

ALSO READ – David Coulthard dazzles Mumbai in Red Bull’s iconic RB7



Since then, Coulthard has reinvented himself as an F1 expert and commentator, continuing his collaboration with Red Bull as a consultant while also conducting show runs around the world.

Coulthard, 51, who was in Mumbai for a Red Bull show at the Bandra Bandstand, shared his thoughts and memories of the sport.

You have been part of the Red Bull team from the start. You were the one who gave the team the first podium. How do you see the team growing from an underdog to the dominant force it is today?

It has been an amazing journey and reflects the investment the team has made in people. If a team’s success is based solely on historical standing or legacy, Ferrari will win it all. But it’s about identifying the right people and investing in them and empowering them. Red Bull is an energy drink company, but they now make Formula 1 winning cars and have successful soccer teams. They have a way of connecting with people and that is at the root of their success. I’m proud to have been part of the journey.

One of your greatest victories came in 2002 at the Monaco Grand Prix. Does this Bandra Bandstand street remind you of this race track given how narrow and everyday it feels?

I’ve always been pretty good on street circuits like Macau and Monaco. I have always felt comfortable in races where there is very little room for error. That suited my driving style. I’ve never felt comfortable on tracks with wider casseroles. driving on these roads [Bandra] feels good to me.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous 1998 Belgian Grand Prix where you and Michael Schumacher spat at each other after a collision on track. How do you look back on this incident?

It was a crazy day. There was a violent crash at the start, in which I was also involved. Then there was a restart and my teammate [Mika Hakkinen] crashed down. I had a pretty bad race and then Michael [Schumacher] was about to lap me. I tried to let him pass me. He couldn’t see me and bumped into me. And everyone saw the reaction afterwards. He clearly wasn’t happy and I understand that. A few weeks later we reconciled with a personal conversation. Every year at the Belgian Grand Prix the incident is repeated and is now part of folklore [chuckles]. Remarkably, Schumacher was exceptionally quick even with only three wheels.

At the show run in Mumbai you drove the RB7, the car in which Sebastian Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix. Unfortunately, this race is no longer part of the F1 schedule. Do you think the race deserves to be put back on the calendar given the sport’s growing fan base in the country?

I think so. India is a very important country for F1. There is a lot of brain power here and the technology is developing rapidly. Enthusiasm is also encouraging. We recently went to a college for a promotional event and the response from the students and audience was great. It clearly shows that the sport has grown at an impressive rate among the younger generation.

Vettel came to Red Bull after retiring in 2008. He has now retired from the sport. Where would you rank him among the best F1 drivers of all time?

He [Sebastian Vettel] definitely one of the biggest. Phenomenal success rate. Four consecutive world titles with an incredible number of poles and wins. And he did it his way. I admire the journey he has taken. In the end it was a bit difficult to see him not living up to his own standards at Ferrari and Aston Martin. I met him at the Champions Race the other day. He was with his family and seems to be in a happy place.


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