David Coulthard 'should probably have stopped a year earlier', Johnny Herbert has argued of the Scot's Formula 1 career - and though there is now just one British driver left on the starting grid heading to Melbourne, the former grand prix winner is confident that 'new faces' will soon appear.

Coulthard hung up his F1 helmet following the Brazilian Grand Prix in November after 246 starts, 13 victories, twelve pole positions, 18 fastest laps, 62 rostrum finishes and a staggering 535 points, but only eight of those points came courtesy of a disappointing final season with Red Bull Racing in 2008. Indeed, a somewhat fortuitous podium in Canada turned out to be the only real highlight of a campaign during which the 37-year-old found himself frequently out-of-luck and routinely out-performed by team-mate Mark Webber.

"He had his stint - a damn good stint - and the time came up, and he chose the right time to stop," former British, Italian and European Grand Prix winner Herbert told Crash.net Radio when asked about the soon-to-be BBC pundit's F1 career. "In fact, with everything that happened last year, he should probably have stopped a year earlier, but hindsight is great.

"He had a good innings, though, he did what he wanted to do and he was happy with the career he had. Life has to move on and he knows that; he's not bitter about not having had another couple of years. He had his time and window, and that window has now closed. He's getting married, so he will now pursue his life in another direction.

"It's always sad to see anybody go, from Michael [Schumacher] to Damon [Hill] to [Nigel] Mansell, but it's something that's always going to happen. It's always going to turn over, and these young guns are always going to come flying through. People say it won't be the same without them, but a new face always appears like Lewis [Hamilton]."

On the subject of Hamilton's countryman Button, should Honda fail to find a saviour between now and the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix at the end of March, the 28-year-old will likely be left on the sidelines for the first time in his eight-year career in the top flight.

Herbert reckons if the team is rescued, it would do well to retain the services of his highly-experienced erstwhile Stewart Grand Prix team-mate Rubens Barrichello alongside the Briton, rather than taking a risk on a young star such as GP2 Series hopefuls Bruno Senna or Lucas di Grassi.

"Jenson said it would be a good thing for them to keep him (Barrichello)," the Romford-born ace explained, "so that's obviously a good thing for him. Senna and di Grassi did well in the test [at Barcelona back in November], but they weren't stars. Would you risk going younger? Some teams do, but they only do it if, like with Lewis, there is a real spark or something really special there.

"Bruno is a lovely guy, very intelligent and obviously has the name, and di Grassi raced with him last year. Bruno was a little bit more inconsistent of the two throughout the year, but if I was to make the decision I would probably stick with Rubens for the time being personally."

by Russell Atkins