David Coulthard has named Mika Hakkinen as his favourite team-mate from his 15 seasons in Formula 1 - even if he admits that the Finnish double world champion is 'such an unusual character'.

Following the Brazilian Grand Prix earlier this month, the highly experienced Scot hung up his F1 helmet after no fewer than 246 races, 13 victories, twelve pole positions, 18 fastest laps, 62 rostrum finishes and a staggering 535 points, making him statistically the most successful British driver in the sport's history - and the fourth-most successful outright, behind only multiple title-winners Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

During his time in the top flight, Coulthard partnered first Damon Hill at Williams, then Hakkinen at McLaren-Mercedes from 1996 until the latter's retirement at the close of the 2001 campaign, making the duo the longest-serving F1 pairing of all time. Following that, 'DC' went on to compete alongside another flying Finn in the shape of Kimi Raikkonen at McLaren, before ending his career at Red Bull Racing, where he drove next to Christian Klien, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Robert Doornbos and, finally, Mark Webber.

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"The longest team-mate I had was Mika Hakkinen," he confirmed in an interview with UK newspaper The Sun, admitting that he has been 'quite lucky' in terms of who he has driven with and rating the 1998 and 1999 world champion as the best team-mate he had.

"Mika was such an unusual character in the respect that he was clearly very talented and very fast, but he seemed like the ultimate green racing driver. He used so little energy outside of the racing car and didn't get himself involved in the politics or any other events; he just saved his energy, drove the car very quickly and went home.

"Damon Hill was my first team-mate in Formula 1, and it was different periods of our lives. He was ten years older and trying to establish himself as the lead guy and I was coming in with my first opportunity, so we didn't really know each other. I never really had any bad relationships with any of my team-mates."

Reflecting on his long and successful career at the pinnacle of international motorsport, Coulthard rates the 2000 French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours - a race in which he passed the two Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher, 'who was his usual difficult self', en route to victory around a circuit on which it is notoriously difficult to overtake - as one of his very finest performances.

Conversely, he laments the errors that saw him crash away potential triumphs in both the 1995 Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide and 1999 European Grand Prix at the N?rburgring as 'pretty disappointing'. Whilst he knows he may never have captured the public's imagination in the way that other British heroes - say Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton - have done, the Twynholm-born ace is adamant he never raced to be loved.

"My motivation was not to be appreciated," he underlined. "My motivation was to take the opportunities I had and to try and make the best of them. Inevitably being involved in a sport such as Formula 1 it's very public, so there are those that support you and those that think you don't deserve your position or are negative towards you.

"I accept that as just being one of those things in life. I never courted public support especially; I just tried to do the best I could with the opportunities I had."

Nine days on from inarguably one of his most popular victories - in front of his partisan supporters in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2000 - Coulthard escaped with only light injuries from what he calls the biggest accident he has ever had when the private Learjet in which he, his then girlfriend and bodyguard were passengers crashed upon landing at Lyon-Satolas airport. Tragically, both the pilot and co-pilot were killed.

"It made me take stock and try and really understand where I was in my life and my career," he confessed, "and understand whether I wanted to continue racing, which obviously involves flying considerably! All those decisions were 'yeah, I love racing and I want to continue', and here we are eight years later and a few more victories down the line."

Continue he indeed did, and though no season has since topped the runner-up spot he achieved in the title standings in 2001, Coulthard has no real regrets. Well, maybe just one.

"I was obviously extremely disappointed," he acknowledged when asked about his first corner exit at Interlagos, "because my goal ultimately was to see the chequered flag for the last time and to really savour each of those 71 laps of the Brazilian circuit.

"Unfortunately racing can be cruel at times, as sport can be, and [Nico] Rosberg hit the back of me, spun me round and his team-mate ran over my front wheel. That was it; all over. It was a disappointing end, but I've had a few ups and downs throughout my career.

"It's obviously only been a few days still, but I had time to plan for the end of the season and I have an active schedule lined up for next year, remaining with Red Bull as a consultant, so I'll still be travelling to the grands prix in another capacity. I have other business interests too, so that particular journey of my life has come to an end, but I think I was very fortunate to have such a long career.

"I'll use my experience behind the wheel occasionally and I'll still test the car. Red Bull have a fairly active young driver development programme, so obviously I'll try and fast-track some of the decisions that those young drivers make to enable them to find their way towards their ultimate goal - and also to technically help the team develop by advising in certain areas."