David Coulthard

David Coulthard (GBR), Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Catalunya, 8th-10th, May, 2009
United Kingdom
Birth Date: 
26 March, 1971
Birth Place: 
Twynholm, Scotland, Great Britain
Driver Height: 
Driver Weight: 

David Coulthard Biography

A fast starter in all senses of the word, David Coulthard has benefited from driving for two of the sports leading teams during his time in Formula One. Cool, unflappable and blessed with good looks, David has become a firm favourite with the fans.

As with most current F1 pilots, the young Coulthard enjoyed a successful karting career. Countless victories provided an ideal stepping stone into the 1989 British Formula Ford series, where he promptly secured the Star of Tomorrow title. This success also resulted in the Scot becoming the first recipient of the prestigious McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award.

Moving into Formula Vauxhall Lotus for 1990, Coulthard looked likely to repeat his success, only for a leg-breaking shunt at Anderstorp in Sweden to blunt his campaign. Nevertheless, fourth overall in the British series, and fifth in Europe, confirmed Coulthard's ability.

A British F3 campaign with the Paul Stewart Racing team pitted Coulthard against GM Lotus Euroseries rival Rubens Barrichello. Despite scoring more race wins than the Brazilian, Coulthard was forced to settle for second overall, but more than made up for the disappointment by winning two of the world's three most celebrated F3 at Macau and Zandvoort.

Two seasons in the International F3000 championship failed to provide Coulthard with a title, but he carved out a reputation as a hard racer who could win from anywhere. His first win in the category came with Pacific Racing in 1992, en route to third overall in the championship.

As well as competing in F3000, Coulthard was proving immensely valuable as a test driver. Succeeding Mark Blundell and Damon Hill at Williams, David was in the right place to inherit Ayrton Senna's seat following the Brazilian's fatal accident at Imola in 1994. A part season - shared with former Williams star Nigel Mansell - was enough to convince the team to hire him full-time for the 1995 season, alongside Damon Hill.

A full season with one of the sport's leading teams was spoiled by illness, which restricted David to a single victory in Portugal. Nevertheless, a string of consistent finishes and near misses saw David finish third overall.

A move to McLaren followed, but the team was still recovering through the post-Senna years which had made it the most successful team in Formula One. The hard work put in by both Coulthard and team-mate Mika Hakkinen eventually returned the team to the sharp end of the grid, and netted David historic victories in Australia and Italy during the 1997 season.

In 1998, the McLaren team proved once-and-for-all that it was a force to be reckoned with in F1, as Hakkinen went on to turn eight race wins into a championship crown. Coulthard, however, had a more trying season and, apart from taking victory in San Marino, he was called on to play second fiddle to his team-mate's championship challenge.

For 1999, McLaren retained the same driver line-up. Hakkinen's first words to Coulthard as he stepped from his championship-winning drive in Japan suggested that this season would be David's chance for glory, but it wasn't to be as the Scotsman suffered a combination of mechanical problems and the odd accident. He did win twice, however, at home in Britain and beating Hakkinen head-to-head at Spa to finish fourth in the title race.

Given the solid working relationship between its two drivers, McLaren again kept both Coulthard and Hakkinen for 2000. As in 1999, the Scot harboured hopes that this would be his year, and vowed to devote even more of his time in pursuit of the title, but was ultimately beaten by team-mate Hakkinen, Michael Schumacher and a run of relatively poor finishes late in the year.

The 2001 campaign brought forth much the same optimistic claims from the Coulthard camp, and the Scot, charged with much of the pre-season testing of the new MP4-16, remained confident that he could take the championship fight to Schumacher Sr.

Again, he got the better of team-mate Hakkinen in the early exchanges, finishing second to the world champion in Australia and then beating - and passing - him in a straight fight to win round three in Brazil. Another win in Austria appeared to set Coulthard up for a shot at the title, before Monaco summed all that was wrong with his - and McLaren's - season.

Having seen off both Schumacher and Hakkinen in a tense battle for pole in the Principality, the Scot was left thumping his steering wheel in frustration when his car quit on the grid. Starting at the very back, he then caused uproar by claiming that backmarker Enrique Bernoldi should have moved over for him, before going on to take a hard-earned fifth.

Out of the top two until Belgium thereafter - while Schumacher took four wins - Coulthard's second spot came under threat from Barrichello, before the Scot consolidated his best ever finish in the title race.

Paired with a new team-mate for 2002 - in the shape of Finnish sensation Kimi Raikkonen - Coulthard was eager to take the challenge to Ferrari. It was not to be though and DC was forced initially to battle with the Renault's, rather than Ferrari and Williams, before the team recovered by the season end.

Coulthard scored 41 points during the year, and despite feeling the pressure from his younger team-mate in qualifying, maintained the upper hand in the races - his best moment coming at the Monaco GP, when he took his (and the team's) sole victory of 2002.

Coulthard remained at McLaren in 2003 however it was a bitterly disappointing season, which although started on a high with a win in Australia, witnessed him struggling with the new single lap qualifying. All in all, DC would notch up 51 points - 40 less than his team-mate, and finish seventh in the drivers' championship. His best result post-Australia, a second in Germany and a third in Japan. What made it all the worse, was that his team-mate, Raikkonen was battling for the championship, and all this in just his third year in F1.

DC's ninth and final season with McLaren, following their decision to replace him with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005, wasn't particularly rosy either.

The Scot was again outscored and generally outperformed by Raikkonen, ending the season with 21 points less than the Finn. Granted in the early part of the year the MP4-19 wasn't very good, however even then he failed to get as much from it as Kimi, a situation that continued with the MP4-19B. Coulthard scored 24 points in total, to end the year, joint ninth in the drivers' standings. There was no wins though, and worse still, no podiums. His best result a fourth place finish at the German GP, hardly anything to boast about.

Although DC's future looked uncertain, he eventually secured a drive with Red Bull Racing for 2005 - and revitalised his career, scoring 24 points during the season and ending the year 12th in the drivers' championship. Indeed the Scot finished in the points on nine occasions, his best results two fourth places finishes - in Australia and at the Nurburgring.

With his career now revitalised by his move to Red Bull, DC continued to show off the benefit of his experience in 2006, even if the team's 'sophomore' season arguably proved to be far tougher than their debut year.

Indeed, despite switching from Cosworth to Ferrari engines, the team struggled to make the potent V8 units work well, with reliability proving a major bugbear ahead of the season. However, despite having failed to complete a race distance before Bahrain, DC only failed to see the chequered flag five times over the season.

The rather conservative RB2 was a mid-field runner at best though and despite DC's attempts to haul it into contention, an eighth place finish at Melbourne was the only highlight of a tough start to the season.

Nonetheless, the best was yet to come after DC gave Red Bull their first podium with a thrilling driver to third place at the Monaco Grand Prix, the Scot making the most of his experience around the circuit to deliver one of the year's most memorable moments.

Fifth in Hungary was the only other strong points haul though and DC became increasingly vocal about the team's inability to improve through the season. Still, with Adrian Newey set to exert his expertise on the RB3 and Renault providing engines, DC opted for a third season with the team in the hope of hitting the highs he managed in his career with McLaren.

While not quite embodying Red Bull's ethos of promoting youth, DC remained eager to show that he could still cut it against the new breed of young guns eager for his place, but faced fellow veteran Mark Webber across the garage in what many predicted as his swansong season.

Three straight retirements to open the season did not bode well as the RB3 proved fragile, but Coulthard opened his account with fifth in Spain and held the points advantage over his Australian team-mate for the rest of the year, even if Webber was clearly quicker - and luckier - in qualifying. Another fifth, in the European GP, was bettered by fourth in the appalling conditions at Fuji and followed by eighth in China as DC ended the year in top ten overall.

Despite rumours that he may be squeezed aside by Fernando Alonso, the Scot remained on board at RBR for 2008, defying the critics who predicted one less Briton on the grid. The year proved to be one of consolidation, as Newey sought reliability to go with the RB3's undoubted pace, and DC managed only eight points, most of which came with third place in Canada.

This time, there was to be no reprieve and, while he agreed to remain at RBR as ambassador, advisor and occasional test driver, the Scot slid quietly into retirement. His opinion, however, was never short of attention, and he was quickly seconded to the BBC's commentary team ahead of the 2009 campaign.

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