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Coulthard and his many hats

NEWS STORY
12/04/2011

"McLaren should put up or shut up in Red Bull wing row," wrote David Coulthard in the McLaren-should-put-up-or-shut-up-in-Red-Bull-wing-row-says-David-Coulthard.html pphotlinkhighlight}Daily Telegraph on Friday. But whose hat was he wearing at the time, that of the BBC or perhaps Red Bull?

"It is just incredible that the Red Bull front wing debate has cropped up again," he continued. "I am sick to the back teeth of hearing the same story regurgitated time and again. To be absolutely clear, a car has to pass scrutineering to be allowed to race. Once it has done so, it is the right of any team, if they feel a car is running outside of the regulations, to lodge a protest. To do that would not even amount to a team's soft drinks budget for a weekend. Small beer.

"So anyone who complains repeatedly about something but does not lodge a protest is either scaremongering, trying to devalue someone else's achievements or has serious doubts about the solidity of their argument," he added. "Red Bull's front wing has repeatedly passed every test put in front of it, so their rivals either need to copy it - if they can - or challenge it if they think it is illegal. Put up or shut up.

"Incidentally, this is not a Red Bull v McLaren thing," he assured us, "it would be the same with any team. It is just boring."

Ignoring his "if they can" comment, which appears just a little too defensive, the fact is that everyone has been talking about 'the wing'. Indeed, the BBC's red button commentary on both Friday and Saturday saw numerous people, including lead commentator David Croft, talk of the legality of the wing in clear 'nudge nudge, wink wink' terms.

Last September, in the face of continued accusations of bias, Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, part of the world's biggest broadcast news operation, famously claimed last that; "impartiality is in our DNA - it's part of the BBC's genetic make-up".

Therefore, we repeat, what hat was David Coulthard wearing when he wrote that he was "sick to the back teeth" of the wing issue?

In mid January, just five days after the BBC confirmed that the Scot would be joining Martin Brundle in the commentary box this season, it was announced that he would also continue his role as 'consultant' with Red Bull, a deal said to be worth £4m a year.

In the wake of the pre-season tests, the BBC team, Brundle, Coulthard and Eddie Jordan, laid into McLaren with a vengeance predicting that the Woking team faced a hammering due, in part, to its decision to launch its car later than its rivals, therefore completing less mileage. While a McLaren source at the time admitted to Pitpass that there were a "few reliability issues" and that "Jenson's pace was genuine" - the previous day the Englishman was second quickest to Mark Webber at Barcelona - he was adamant that the car was competitive and that the BBC trio were way off the mark. Fast forward to Melbourne and Sepang and it would appear our source was right.

When Coulthard was handed the BBC commentary role, and told by the corporation that he could maintain his lucrative links to Red Bull, concerns were raised.

"The BBC should be considering the implications of this appointment." Labour culture spokeswoman Pauline McNeill told the Daily Record. "David Coulthard is a great catch for the BBC but they have to make sure the rules are applied equally to all staff. The rules have to be the same for everyone - there cannot be exceptions for individuals if impartiality is to be maintained."

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