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Coulthard: You'd think Tilke could produce something more exciting...

Thirteen-time grand prix-winner turned BBC F1 pundit and DTM ace David Coulthard stresses that for the sport to be a success in the States this time around, it first has to get the circuit right...
David Coulthard has mused that having competed 'around one of the scariest and most challenging racetracks in the world', Hermann Tilke should be able to 'come up with something a little more exciting' than his usual fare – but with hopes rather higher for the prolific German architect's forthcoming United States Grand Prix track in Texas, he admits that F1 does need a race in America.

The last time the sport headed across the Pond to the US was in 2007, but the seeds of its departure from the calendar had been sown a couple of years earlier, when 14 of the 20 starters pulled into the pits and retired at the end of the formation lap due to safety issues with Michelin's tyres at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Americans love a spectacle, and F1's incessant politics had deprived them of any kind of entertainment at all that afternoon. The on-off love affair – so delicate at the best of times – was once again off.

Four years on, however, and agreement has finally been reached to reinstate the US Grand Prix on the F1 schedule, with Austin's Circuit of the Americas set to join the calendar in November, 2012. This time around, Coulthard stresses, the sport needs to leave a positive imprint, not a negative one.

“It does [need a race in America] in order to call itself a true world championship,” the BBC F1 pundit told Road & Track. “To genuinely have a world championship, it should be represented by as many countries as possible. I was very excited when it came back to Indianapolis and we had a great turnout, but then we shot ourselves in the foot with that tyre fiasco. To be honest, it had nothing to do with Indianapolis and the tyres; it was all politics. I remember I was on the radio saying, 'I'll start the race, I'll start the race'.”

Of course, one key factor in F1's success in the States is that the racing must be fun and draw the fans in; with no home-grown driver to support, it is likely that many spectators' prime objective will be to enjoy a gripping afternoon's action – the like of which has been witnessed on many an occasion already this season. A repetition of Bahrain 2010 would be a major no-no, and could kill off interest in the sport in America as swiftly as it has been revived; hence, asserts Coulthard, the need for Tilke to pull something special out of the bag.

“He's a touring car racer himself – he's raced at the Nürburgring – so you'd think someone like Hermann who's been around one of the scariest and most challenging racetracks in the world could come up with something a little more exciting,” the Scot opined. “Turkey got it right [with] Turn Eight; it's bumpy with multiple apexes, [and] if you get the first one wrong, you have to bail out and you lose time. Malaysia is the first of the new tracks, and they have a few sweeping corners.

“You need overtaking and fast corners. The fast corners give the drivers the ride of their lives, and if the drivers speak positively about it, then the fans will be positive about it and want to check it out. They need it to be a driver's track. If you have a driver's track, people will talk about it and want to go there.

“I went to Watkins Glen earlier this year; I had heard of Watkins Glen but had never been there, so I drove the track and I thought it was the scariest place I had ever driven, but that's what makes you feel alive in a race car, isn't it? You need corners where drivers feel that they're really pushing the limits.”

Coulthard acknowledges that whilst artificial aids such as DRS and KERS have inarguably spiced up the spectacle this year, he 'would love for the pure wheel-to-wheel racing, but to have that, you need all the cars to be the same, and that's not what F1 is' – conceding that 'it'll always be a battle on the human level, between the engineers and the mechanics'. Ultimately, though, he reflects, whatever the era, whatever the technology, there is still nothing else in the world quite like it.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
02.07.2006 Indianapolis, USA, USA GP Grid Girl - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, United States Grand Prix, Sunday Grid Girl
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25.03.2011- Friday Practice 2, David Coulthard (GBR)
09.04.2011- David Coulthard (GBR)
David Coulthard (GBR) Reb Bull RB4, Hungarian F1, Hungaroring, 1st-3rd, August, 2008
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Magician - Unregistered

August 16, 2011 11:46 AM

ferret - Laguna is all about one corner, the corkscrew. Apart from that its a short dusty narrow track with the sort of facilities that the F1 crowd would turn their noses up at. It would be a bit like going back to the Brands Hatch short circuit of 1975, but with nice weather. It is a little odd that a great country like USA doesn't really have an epic modern road course like for example Spa or Silverstone, wide, modern facilities, near a big city. The all seem to be a bit like Oulton Park, a fine track, but not suitable for a Grand Prix or other World Championship events.

mark - Unregistered

August 16, 2011 11:58 AM

Unless you happen to have money to burn and like paying corrupt muppets like murdoch it wont matter as you most likely wont get to see the race properly anyway. we are trying to organise somthing on keep f1 on the bbc ( facebook page ) to get this sorted

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