David Coulthard has confirmed that he will return to racing in 2010 after inking a deal to compete for Mercedes-Benz in the high-technology DTM touring car championship – a move that he hopes will allow him to rediscover the 'buzz' and 'adrenaline' of the sport that he loves.
Coulthard hung up his helmet at the end of 2008 following 15 seasons in the top flight that yielded 13 grand prix victories, 62 podium finishes and 535 points – making him statistically the most successful British driver in F1 history, and at the time the fourth-most successful outright, behind only multiple world champions Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Since then, the popular Scot has won many fans as a pundit for the BBC's F1 coverage, forming a formidable double act with colourful former team owner Eddie Jordan – and with no clashes on the two series' calendars, he will be able to continue to fulfil that role whilst dovetailing it with his new DTM duties, in addition to his consultancy position at Red Bull Racing, with whom he ended his grand prix career.
Coulthard will join fellow ex-F1 star and grand prix-winner Ralf Schumacher and McLaren-Mercedes and Force India reserve drivers Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta respectively in the pan-European tin-top series, and at 39 he insists it is the right move to be making – revealing that he only recently turned down the opportunity to return to the highest level.
“I always said I wasn't hanging up my helmet for good because I didn't believe I was over racing,” the Twynholm native told the BBC
. “I just knew my time as an F1 driver had reached its natural conclusion. I had a call from one of the teams which I never returned, because people in F1 knew I wasn't looking to make a return in F1.
“I didn't actively look to race anything through 2009, but at the final race of the DTM season I really got the buzz and the tingle again for the competition. That led to a test with Mercedes, which led to me making the decision that I'd like to dovetail my BBC work with racing in the DTM. There's a reasonable level of technology involved in the cars, it's a professionally run championship and in Mercedes there's a company I worked with for seven years in my time at McLaren.
“The adrenaline is the thing I miss in everyday life. Do I miss the competition? Only because I know how much fun it is to compete. There's not a big void in my life which means I'm missing it, but if I can do a championship which fits with my other commitments and I get the buzz you get behind the wheel of a racing car, then why would I not take it? I'm almost 40; I won't have that option open to me when I'm almost 50. I raced for 26 years; only 15 of them were in F1, so there were a number of other years of racing in other formulae.”
The 2010 DTM campaign will begin at Hockenheim in Germany on 25 April, before going on to visit four countries over nine rounds.