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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
13/01/2018

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Biography

 

Like many drivers, David began his racing career in karts, before graduating to Formula Ford in 1989. He then enjoyed seasons in F3 and F3000 before being appointed Williams' test driver in 1993.

Although he began the 1994 F3000 season, David was promoted to a Williams race seat following the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola. The Scot impressed the team by his performance under difficult circumstances, and although he was replaced by Nigel Mansell for the final races of the year he finished 8th in the Drivers' Championship and was kept on for the following season.

His first victory came in the 1995 Portuguese GP, and he went on to end the year third in the championship.

Coulthard moved to McLaren for the 1996 season, and has remained with the Woking team ever since.

Although he has impressed at various stages during his F1 career, Coulthard has so far failed to demonstrate the consistency required to take the drivers' crown. A strong start to the 1998 season saw him fight his team mate Mika Hakkinen before dropping back in to a support role, while a string of strong drives during 2000 put him back in with a chance of championship glory, before he dropped back to end the year in third.

2001 saw him claim the runner-up spot behind Michael Schumacher, but technical failures and some far from inspiring performances meant that the title was never really within his sights.

Following the departure of long-term team-mate Hakkinen, David found himself lining up alongside another 'flying Finn' in 2002, the highly rated Kimi Raikkonen. Having played what some might consider a support role to Hakkinen, David was determined that it wouldn't happen again.

In the opening GP at Melbourne the Scot narrowly out-qualified the Finn, but it was the newcomer that scored the points the following day. It's to his credit that other than WilliamsF1's Ralf Schumacher, David was the only non-Ferrari driver to win a race in 2002, the Scot taking a popular win at Monaco, a track he enjoys.

Following the joy of Monaco, David took another 6 points in Canada, however the rest of the season was spent hoping that the Ferraris would slip up, or at least miss a beat, which they rarely did. The MP4-17 wasn't a classic car, and its tendency towards oversteer was definitely not to David's liking, while the Mercedes power-plant was never likely to worry the Ferraris or the WilliamsF1s.

Much like the sound of the first swallow heralds the arrival of Spring, so each season seems to begin with Coulthard announcing that 'the gloves are off', the 'Mr Nice Guy' image has been dropped and that this will be his year.

2003 got off to the perfect start when David took a convincing win in Australia, while Raikkonen's win in Malaysia seemed to indicate that the McLaren was finally in a position to challenge the Ferraris, albeit with a modified 2002 car.

Unfortunately David wasn't to climb on the podium again until the German GP - eleven races later - when he finished second, rounding off the season with another podium in Japan. Eventually finishing seventh in the Drivers' Championship, this was DC's worst result since joining McLaren in 1996.

In all fairness the new 'hot lap' qualifying format didn't suit the Scot and as a result he regularly found himself starting from the middle of the grid. In addition Raikkonen - almost nine years the Scot's junior - was on outstanding form.

Bernie Ecclestone suggested that Coulthard should move from McLaren, that a change of scene would revitalise him, while many thought that the Scot's career was coming to an end, particularly at a time when Juan Pablo Montoya was being linked with a move to Woking.

Over the course of the Hungarian GP weekend McLaren announced its 2004 line-up and David Coulthard was confirmed for a record ninth season. However, it wasn't long afterwards that McLaren announced its 2005 line-up, with Montoya joining Raikkonen.

DC started the 2004 season knowing that if he was to remain in F1 in 2005 he needed to make a good impression, therefore we can only begin to imagine how frustrated he felt on discovering what a dog of a car the MP4-19 really was.

That said, while Raikkonen was retiring with various problems, usually engine related, the Scot at least managed to bring his car home, often in the points. However, the MP4-19 didn't give him the opportunity to demonstrate that he still had the potential to win races, and thereby impress potential employers. It says much for Coulthard's character that he persisted, a point here, a point there.

Behind the scenes his manager, Martin Brundle, was trying to secure the Scot a seat for 2005. McLaren had said there was a (test) role for him at Woking, but David wasn't interested, he wanted to race.

The big teams already had their 2005 line-up arranged, and it was only when WilliamsF1 announced the signing of Mark Webber, that Brundle closed in on the Jaguar seat.

By all accounts the deal was almost done, with the Scot lined up to lead the American-owned British team, sorted. Then came the devastating news that Ford was pulling out of F1 and putting the Milton Keynes outfit up for sale.

Despite the obvious disappointment, Coulthard stuck at it, taking points whenever he could, hoping that someone, somewhere was watching.

At season end - he finished tenth in the drivers' championship, his worst result since entering F1 - it looked as though it was all over for the Scot. The only seats remaining being those at Minardi and Jordan, while Jaguar's fate, like DC's looked bleak.

Salvation appeared to be at hand, when, in November, Red Bull stepped in and bought Jaguar Racing, however, the door appeared to slam back in Coulthard's face, when Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, announced that the Scot was "not an option".

Imagine everyone's surprise - possibly even DC's - when a few days later, Mateschitz had a change of heart and said that Coulthard was the man to lead Red Bull in 2005.

On December 17, Coulthard got the perfect Christmas present when he signed as number one driver for Red Bull Racing.

In previous years we had all grown sick of the endless "the gloves are off" and "this is my year" soundbites, though if the truth be told with the emergence of Jenson Button, a man forever promising that 'this will be the year I win my first race', the Scot had eased off.

Freed from the corporate shackles that were the norm at McLaren, at Red Bull, Coulthard clearly thrived, he became a different person. He grew his hair, stopped shaving, and even dished out the banter to journalists - all that appeared to be missing was the mockney accent.

Whereas, at Woking DC had to epitomise the McLaren and Mercedes corporate image, at Red Bull the Scot was allowed to be full-on rock 'n' roll, indeed, it was encouraged, and David rose to the occasion.

Thankfully, this transformation wasn't restricted to the paddock, on track also, the Scot appeared to have rediscovered his real self.

At Melbourne, the Coulthard revival got off to the best possible start when the Scot took fourth place, giving his team a massive morale boost exactly when it needed it.

Points finishes followed in Malaysia and Bahrain, proving the Australia result was no fluke.

As the season progressed, the weakness of the RBR1 and the Cosworth began to show, and the team struggled. However, that didn't prevent further excellent performances from Coulthard, most notably at the Nurburgring, where a drive-through penalty ended his hopes of a podium finish. At Monaco, a circuit where the Scot has enjoyed several fine wins, he was looking good for a points finish until a coming together with Michael Schumacher.

By the time the 2006 season gets underway, the Scot will be 35, which makes him the second oldest driver on the grid. That said, after Schumacher, in terms of wins, he remains the most successful driver.

We can be thankful that DC didn't retire at the end of 2004 and that the Red Bull drive came about. However, as we look ahead to the new season it appears that all is not well with the RBR2, with some members of the Milton Keynes based outfit fearing a slide down the grid.

That said, with Adrian Newey on board, Coulthard, who has previously worked with the Englishman at both WilliamsF1 and McLaren, can already begin looking forward to the RBR3, providing that he continues to perform and that Red Bull is willing to take full advantage of his experience.

Finishing tenth in the Drivers' Championship, his worst result since entering F1 - it looked as though it was all over for the Scot. The only seats remaining being those at Minardi and Jordan, while Jaguar's fate, like DC's, looked bleak.

Salvation appeared to be at hand however, when, in November, Red Bull stepped in and bought Jaguar Racing, however, the door looked to have to slammed back in David's face, when Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, announced that the Scot was "not an option".

Imagine everyone's surprise - possibly even DC's - therefore, when a few days later, Mateschitz had a change of heart and said that Coulthard was the man to lead his team in 2005.

On December 17, David got the perfect Christmas present when he signed as number one driver for Red Bull Racing.

In previous years we had all grown sick of the endless "the gloves are off" and "this is my year" soundbites, though if the truth be told with the emergence of Jenson Button, a man forever promising that 'this will be the year I win my first race', the Scot had eased off.

Freed from the corporate shackles that were the norm at McLaren, at Red Bull, Coulthard clearly thrived, he became a different person. He grew his hair, stopped shaving, and even dished out the banter to journalists, complete with a smattering of risqué language - all that appeared to be missing was the mockney accent.

Whereas, at Woking DC had to epitomise the McLaren and Mercedes corporate image, at Red Bull the Scot was allowed to be full-on rock 'n' roll, indeed, it was encouraged, and David certainly rose to the occasion.

Thankfully, this transformation wasn't restricted to the paddock, on track also, the Scot appeared to have rediscovered his real self.

At Melbourne, the Coulthard revival got off to the best possible start when the Scot took fourth place, giving his team a massive morale boost exactly when it needed it. Points finishes followed in Malaysia and Bahrain, proving the Australia result was no fluke.

As the season progressed, the weakness of the RBR1 and the Cosworth began to show, and the team struggled. However, that didn't prevent further excellent performances from Coulthard, most notably at the Nurburgring, where a drive-through penalty ended his hopes of a podium finish. At Monaco, a circuit where the Scot has enjoyed several fine wins, he was looking good for a points finish until a coming together with Michael Schumacher.

Retained for 2006, Coulthard hoped that he and his team would build on the success of early 2005, and who would doubt it, after all, the new car would be powered by the Ferrari V8.

However, it was an immensely frustrating season for the Scot, who had every right to later describe it as an 'Annus Horribilis'.

DC did all he could, and then some, but despite his best efforts, which continually flattered the entire RB2-Ferrari package he ended the season with ten points less than he'd achieved the previous year.

With Adrian Newey on board and working on the 2007 car, the team appeared to write off much of 2006, particularly in the latter stages, and Coulthard did the best he could, yet somehow managed to keep smiling.

Third place in Monaco was the highlight of the season, and considering the package it was more like a win. How appropriate that the team was sponsored by Superman (the movie not Clark Kent) for that one race.

Had it been a lesser man, Red Bull might have fallen apart, however, DC pulled it all together, refusing to let the ship go down even though it was clearly in trouble. Yes, he was publicly critical of the team, in the eyes of many a no-no, however, in all honesty who could really blame him?

For 2007, David retained his seat, making him the oldest driver on the grid in Melbourne. Fact is, as the season progressed the Scot must have really begun to feel his age.

Pre-season testing didn't suggest that we were about to see Red Bull take a major step forwards, however, nobody expected a run of three straight retirements for the hapless Scot. While Melbourne was down to an 'accident', Malaysia (brakes) and Bahrain (driveshaft) gave a strong hint of what was to come.

David finally got some points in Spain, finishing fifth, however it was to be another couple of months, in Germany, before he added to his tally, and even that was more down to luck than judgement. Nonetheless, despite the 'fragility' of the RB3, David appeared to have the edge over his Australian teammate, Mark Webber, eventually ending up two places ahead of the Australian in the Drivers' Championship.

With Fernando Alonso's future at McLaren looking dubious, there was speculation that the Spaniard might join Red Bull, in fact, as Pitpass reported, the two-time World Champion was offered a multi-year deal but he was only prepared to sign on the dotted line for a year at a time. Had Alonso taken the Red Bull schilling - or is that euro - no doubt David would have been cast aside, however, as it happens he stayed on for another year, his fifteenth season in F1.

Despite having won in Melbourne twice, the 2008 race was in many ways typical of what turned out to be the Scot's final season in F1.

While David had a surprisingly good qualifying session, his race came to an end on lap 25 when he was involved in an incident with Felipe Massa. The Scot subsequently summed up the situation in typical no-nonsense fashion: "I know I screwed up the same way with Alex Wurz last year, and took full responsibility for it," he told The Sun, "however, I would expect Felipe to do the same. If he doesn't, I'm going to kick three colours of sh*t out of the little bastard."

A suspension failure during practice in Malaysia led to the RB4 being investigated in terms of its safety. The lack of time in the car cost the Scot dearly, though he did well to finish ninth.

While in Canada he gave the team its only podium finish of the year, courtesy of a strong drive to third, it should not be forgotten that Hamilton and Raikkonen were watching the event from the sidelines having both been eliminated as a result of the English driver's moment of madness in the pitlane.

At Silverstone, David confirmed what many had been thinking for some time, that his F1 career was coming to an end. Sadly, his performance at his final home Grand Prix pretty much summed up his entire final season, a season littered with silly mistakes and needless incidents. Though not all of his creation, there were too many times when it appeared DC was simply going through the motions.

Even his final F1 outing, the Brazilian GP, ended on the first lap, the Scot hitting Nakajima after being clouted by Rosberg. How ironic that the veteran's final Grand Prix should see him being involved with both drivers for the team with which he made his F1 debut.

As the Scot walked back to the pits, he looked a sorry figure, this was no way to end a career that has spanned fifteen seasons, almost two hundred and fifty races. However, in typical style DC shrugged his broad shoulders and waved to the crowd.

It was Pitpass that revealed Coulthard's recruitment to the BBC where the Scot will form part of the broadcaster's F1 team in 2009. Over the years we have enjoyed the Scot's outspokenness and honesty, particularly in a sport where individuality appears to be frowned upon.

Whether he achieved his ambition only DC will know. He has amassed a small fortune and can now look forward to further time in the spotlight as a pundit, however, one cannot help but feel that the Scot had at least one title in him, had it not been for the fact that for several seasons he was in the right team but at the wrong time.

Statistics - Prior to 2009 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 15
Grand Prix: 246
Wins: 13
Points: 535
Poles: 12
Fastest Laps: 18

Best result in 2008: 3rd (Canada)
Best qualifying 2008: 8th (Australia)
Worst qualifying 2008: 17th (3 times)
Average grid position 2008: 12.72
2008: Out-qualified Mark Webber 2 times
2008: Out-qualified by Mark Webber 16 times

2008: Completed 812 out of 1117 laps (72.7%)
2008: Finished 13 times from 18 starts (72%)

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