David Coulthard: the driver debates

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

David Coulthard, Magny-Cours, 2008, 470150
Red Bull?s David Coulthard is the second most experienced driver on the grid ?ǣ and is famously defiant when asked if he might retire soon.

But after four seasons at Red Bull his place in the team looks under threat from the promising Sebastian Vettel.

Should Coulthard keep his place in the team?

Coulthard seems to belong in that group of drivers ?ǣ including Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger and Rubens Barrichello ?ǣ who might have achieved more at the peak of their careers had Michael Schumacher not been winning everything in sight.

You can?t blame Schumacher for that of course and in the case of Coulthard he spent nine years at McLaren during some of their most competitive seasons without winning a title.

His team mate Mika Hakkinen did. Coulthard?s staunchest supporters may suggest that McLaren only had eyes for one driver and it was not Coulthard (something Fernando Alonso?s fans may sympathise with). In his autobiography last year Coulthard insisted that while McLaren?s distribution of equipment between the two drivers was scrupulously fair, Ron Dennis?s preference was towards Hakkinen.

If that?s true then it makes what Coulthard did achieve at McLaren more remarkable including some excellent victories at Magny-Cours in 2000 and Interlagos in 2001. He was one of only two drivers to stop the Ferrari steamroller in 2002, winning at Monte-Carlo ?ǣ adding to his 2000 victory at one of F1?s toughest tracks.

Hakkinen often got the rub of the green as far as reliability went as well. But Coulthard was usually out-gunned on pace and made more mistakes than he should have done too ?ǣ at Austria in 1999 he first took his team mate out of the race and then contrived to lose the lead to Eddie Irvine?s Ferrari. And he had plenty of controversial run-ins with Schumacher.

Many expected his F1 career to be over after being dropped by McLaren in 2004 but he bounced back with Red Bull. The team struggled with unreliability in their first few seasons but Coulthard took them to their first podium at Monaco in 2006. This year, however, Mark Webber seems to have the measure of him.

Will Coulthard still be in F1 next year?

Read more about David Coulthard: David Coulthard biography

David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault, Istanbul, qualifying, 2008, 470313

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