F1 grand prix winner and BBC Sport
F1 co-commentator and pundit David Coulthard chats ahead of the 2013 F1 season opener in Australia...
David, this will be your third year in the BBC Sport
F1 commentary box and your second season alongside lead Ben Edwards. Do you think you and Ben have gelled well over the last twelve months or so?
Very good question. It is not something that I have actually stopped to think about. I trust in the BBC
team. Ben is a seasoned professional. I remember listening to him in his Eurosport
days and before I was even racing in F1. I have known of Ben from way back when he was racing. I trust in him. He is the governor. He is the boss of the commentary box. He is there to introduce the show and hold it together. I'm there to give my opinion of things and we have a conversation as buddies in the commentary box.
But the real answer to your question is not for me to answer. It is for the public to answer. Do they feel it works? Are they comfortable with the contrasting broadcasting styles and voices? There will be people that don't like my voice just because they don't like my voice! In the same way that I make those slightly irrational decisions based on things when I am clicking through the channels on the TV. But there will be those that do like Ben and I together as well.
Ultimately it is not about us though. The images are what are given to us by FOM (Formula One Management). We are there to tell the story not to the expert watching F1, but to the relatively new or somebody that might even be tuning in for the very first time. There is a reason why we always say the Drag Reduction System repeatedly, not DRS - it is because not everyone knows what DRS is. There are a lot of things in everyday life that we don't repeat exactly what it is because pretty much everyone knows what it is. But in a sport like this you have to keep informing the public.
You worked before in the commentary box with Martin Brundle. Is it a big difference now working with Ben?
I had and have a different relationship with Martin. We were competitors in F1 and he then managed the contractual side of my business for ten years or so and then we ended up working together. Martin and I have spent a lot of time together socially and we are friends. Martin was a great support in my transition from being a driver to working in television. We maintain that relationship and friendship right now. I don't see any reason why that would change.
Ben and I have not had that same depth of working relationship. But I completely believe in his television professionalism. That is what he is. He is, as I said before, a seasoned professional in TV. I think he has a great depth of knowledge, a very recognisable voice and a real enthusiasm. If I was a fan sitting at home then I'd be very happy to listen to him.
The weak link in the box is not Martin or Ben. The weak link in the box is me as I develop my knowledge of how to broadcast. It is not something I have studied my whole life for. I was a racing driver - all I focused and thought about was going faster and winning races. My role now is to share my experiences of F1 and my experiences working with the various personalities in the sport. I have raced against most of the drivers' that are out there having only relatively recently retired in the last five years. I still drive a current grand prix car each year [through my involvement with Red Bull Racing]. It is a great refresher. I feel, irrespective of whether people agree with my opinion or not, and they are completely entitled not to if they want, it is only an opinion, but I feel comfortable to give a view or [say] how I see it. I hope that is a good thing for the public.
How do you see things shaping up in Australia?
It is always unpredictable in Melbourne. We do get some mixed results there. But that said it is not a slow car that wins the race. It does look like from winter testing that it is a bit of a mix match depending on what criteria the teams ran the cars too – whether it be with low fuel or which particular tyres. But when we get to Melbourne it all gets simplified. They have to run one of two compounds of tyres, they will always run the fastest of those tyres in qualifying and with low fuel and they will have to stick all the fuel in for the race. We will have a much better picture – just saying all the obvious – come Sunday night. But I would be surprised if is not one of the big teams that have either won a championship or won a grand prix before that is doing exactly the same in Melbourne.