David Coulthard has confessed that after a shaky start, he has thoroughly settled into his new role as a BBC F1
pundit alongside the man he describes as one of the paddock's true 'special' cases – but following more than a year out of the cockpit now, he is beginning to experience the lure of competition once more.
Coulthard hung up his grand prix helmet at the end of 2008, following 15 campaigns at the highest level that had yielded 13 grand prix victories, 62 podium finishes and 535 points – making him statistically the most successful British driver of all time, and the seventh-most successful outright, behind only world champions Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso and long-time rival Rubens Barrichello.
Still, none of that on-track glory quite prepared the Scot for his move to the other side of the microphone, he confesses...
“I certainly have a whole new appreciation for broadcasting,” Coulthard revealed. “You can talk complete b****cks as a driver and it doesn't really matter, but this is a whole new challenge. The big thing about live TV is that you have to literally do everything to the second.
“You can be talking about Michael Schumacher coming back, and you have somebody in your ear counting down 'five-four-three-two-one...' I was like a rabbit in the headlights when I started, but they have invited me back for this year – so I must have done a reasonable job!”
The Twynholm native's sparring partner – and a man with whom he has regular disagreements of opinion on-air, much to viewers' amusement – is the irrepressible Eddie Jordan, who ran his eponymously-named Jordan Grand Prix outfit in the top flight from 1991 until selling out to Midland at the end of 2005. Just how the Irishman managed to achieve so much success over that period, Coulthard quips, is a mystery to him...
“I need someone to translate half of the time!” he joked. “For a man who used to run a team, some of the stuff he comes out with is complete lunacy! He's a special case, for sure...”
With his F1 retirement coinciding nicely with the arrival of his first child Dayton late in 2008, Coulthard has clearly enjoyed his time away from the spotlight of the grid, but he admits that the competitive fire is now beginning to stir up inside of him again.
A switch to pan-European touring car series the DTM with Mercedes-Benz in-place of underperforming fellow ex grand prix-winner Ralf Schumacher has been mooted, thanks to the Red Bull consultant's close links with the Stuttgart manufacturer from his nine seasons spent at McLaren between 1996 and 2004. A test drive has reportedly already been lined up.
“I do miss driving,” he acknowledged. “I raced for 20 years from karting to F1. I didn't stop because I got bored; I just recognised that I had reached the end of that particular journey in F1. I've got a 14-month-old baby now, but it's very much in my mind to do some racing in the future.
“I had the chance to drive a Ford World Rally car briefly at the Race of Champions in Beijing. It was such a fantastic feeling to be back behind the wheel of a car again, though it was very different obviously to a grand prix car. At the end of the day I'm a racer, and at 38 I'm not that old and wrinkly yet!”