David Coulthard leaves Formula One as the sport’s ultimate journeyman, and his story is one that can be told by the statistics he leaves behind. DC is currently the third most successful driver of all time in terms of points scoring finishes, but is only the 19th most successful in terms of wins. That sums up his career beautifully.
David was more than capable of winning races in spectacular fashion, but lacked the competitive edge that could have made him a champion. The raw skill was there but you could argue the application and consistency was not.
However, it is unfair to suggest that Coulthard was anything but a top class Grand Prix driver. No-one takes a pair of victories at Monaco, or barges past Michael Schumacher for the lead of a race, without seriously hot talent.
If Coulthard had stayed with Williams in the mid nineties he would have become a deserving World Champion instead of Damon Hill or Jacques Villeneuve. Instead he sought greener pastures with McLaren, but circumstances worked against him and he always felt like an outsider in Mika Hakkinen’s team.
Coulthard came close to scaling the heights of Formula One, but will go down in history as the most successful driver never to win the World Championship.
David himself admits to having seen the extra bit of determination in Schumacher and Hakkinen that made them champions, but detested the way their self belief destroyed their trust in others. DC said “If that’s what it takes, if that’s the last little bit you need to be a champion, then I don’t want to be that person.”
Coulthard’s comments are a true mark of the man. His charming attitude is matched only by his ability to communicate it.
It is an awful shame there have not been more drivers like him.
Many drivers hide behind a veil of premeditated soundbites, and stick to a corporate line that is barley believable. Others indulge in mindless trash talk, or will speak highly of themselves because no-one else will.
DC is not one of those drivers. He simply tells it like it is, and always has. Coulthard’s gracious honesty was one of the best things he brought into Formula One.
He could bring a press conference to life, and some of his interviews with Louise Goodman will never be forgotten. His good humour and candid nature made him a favourite for many fans worldwide.
As we ponder the possibility of Coulthard assuming a job behind the BBC’s microphones in 2009, we have a great chance to reflect on the lighter moments he has given us over the past 15 years.
Here then is a small collection of David Coulthard’s most memorable quotes.
“I am not motivated by recognition, I just do things I like doing – racing, shagging, eating and drinking.”
Before the 2008 British Grand Prix about the poor weather
“I can feel the water soaking into my boxer shorts, and at my age I’m not sure whether I’ve wet myself or if its’ the rain.”
After being bumped in the head by a cameraman
“If I was Montoya I’d be like ‘what the fuck are you doing?’”
Describing the Malaysian Grand Prix heat
“It’s like having to do some physical exercise in a sauna, effectively, and unless it was having sex, I cannot imagine why anyone would want to do anything in a sauna”
On Montoya after clashing with the Columbian at the 2006 British Grand Prix
“I wouldn’t waste my time by going to see Juan Pablo. It would be like going to a zoo and trying to communicate with a chimpanzee.”
Ralf Schumacher told a press conference at Malaysia in 2004 that he would run Montoya off the road if the two came together on the track. Coulthard’s response was
“Thats brilliant. Oh sorry I was just meant to think that. Go for it.”
About the stewards who fined him for missing the drivers parade
“I said ‘You’ve fined me 4,000 Euros, I’ve done 230-odd grands prix and never missed one except for Malaysia where I was ill and in the medical centre. So that’s 4,000 Euros out of my children’s inheritance!’ There was no reaction from them. No smile or anything. So I then said to them ‘Okay, let’s cut it to 2000 Euros if I pay in cash.’ Still no reaction. So I then asked Alan Donnelly if he could translate that, because that is somewhat funny in English. But he said it was only funny in Scottish. I’ve told Karen no shopping and next week. No food on the table. We’ll take the pain together!”
After colliding with Felipe Massa at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix
“I know I screwed up the same way with Alex last year but I took full responsibility for it and I would expect Felipe to do the same. If he doesn’t, then I’m gonna kick three colours of shit out of the little bastard.”
About the risk of being electrocuted by KERS
“I’ll be wearing a full rubber body suit to make sure that I’m safe. Formula 1 driving suits will become like fireproof condoms!”
When asked in a press conference what affect a new aero package would have on his car
“Well, unsurprisingly, I hope it’s going to improve performance.”
Lewis Hamilton was challenged by Jenson Button during a press conference to compete in a triathlon. Coulthard added
“He’s throwing down a man challenge. You can’t turn down a man challenge.”
When DC was later asked to join the triathlon he responded with
“I’m 37 years old for fuck’s sake”
To an RTL commentator who asked DC about his cool suit
“It’s a bullet proof vest because I know when I get interviewed by you that people might want to shoot you and I don’t want to get the bullet instead.”
On crashing during practice for the 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix
“I am glad it happened here rather than Spa and at Eau Rouge. Otherwise you’d be picking bits of me out of the grandstand right now.”
On his biggest regret in F1
“I think the biggest regret, there was 2 Argentinean twins at the 95 Grand Prix that I walked away from, and I wish I’d taken that opportunity”
When asked if there was ever a time in his career that a teammate made him so angry he sought revenge
“It involves girls, it doesn’t involve cars”
On Michael Schumacher’s winter testing with Ferrari in 2007
“I think there is a guy called Michael. It looks as though he’s got a talent. He will make his way to F1.”
Stirring up Felipe Massa during a press conference
Coulthard: “How do we know that Ferrari didn’t deliberately not put fuel in Felipe’s car? Maybe that was a team decision to benefit Kimi. How do you forget to put fuel in the car?”
Massa: “Yeah, but it wasn’t on purpose. It was a misunderstanding.”
Coulthard: “Pretty fundamental misunderstanding. I think it’s a conspiracy to favour Kimi. Good luck.”
About Mark Webber throwing up during the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix
“I don’t understand it because I thought I cooked that fish enough.”
When told he would have to repeat his answer for a TV interview because there was a problem with the camera
“That was a fucking awesome answer. How can there be a problem? That was just JYS textbook.”
On testing in Malaysia as opposed to Barcelona
“I think it’s funny to hear Nico saying that testing somewhere else is nice because it gets a bit boring even though he’s only been in Formula One for a couple of years. Imagine how I feel!”
When interviewed with Jenson Button before the 2004 British Grand Prix
Interviewer: “Both of you took part in the London demonstration earlier this week; can we have your impressions of it? “
Coulthard: “Well, I think first of all you’ve got to be clear that that was the Grand Prix demonstration and not the Gay Rights demonstration, just for anyone who might be in any doubt as to what we were doing.”
Later, during the same interview
Interviewer: “Actually you’ve been with Jenson, haven’t you David?”
Coulthard: “It depends in what sense you mean I’ve been with him.”
“I don’t agree with financial penalties. That goes against my religion.”
When Montoya purposely avoided a question during a press conference, Coulthard added
“That’s how important he thinks your questions are – he doesn’t listen to them.”
On his altercation in the pits with Schumacher during the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix
“I didn’t realise, looking at the video footage, that little Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali followed him into the garage. Stefano has got hold of him, but you have little Jean Todt getting pulled along like a little mini man. And the whole thing gets turned around because Forks, who used to be the big guy at McLaren who did the fuel, he just pushed Michael out. And as Michael gets pushed out, Jean runs into it like a car crash. They are the funny moments I will remember.”
On the possibility of joining Lewis Hamilton in the Race of Champions
“I’d love to ride his coat tails and win something.”
And of course, there have been his numerous exchanges with Louise Goodman.
When asked by Louise how the cold weather was affecting the Grand Prix weekend
“Well, it’s a lot nicer to look at you in your tight t-shirts first out.”
When asked by Louise if Mark Webber was the teammate he expected him to be
“He’s more gentle. He caresses my hair and things like that.”
Louise responded with “I’m not going to get a sensible answer out of you here am I”
Louise: “Have you been practising with that pit lane speed limiter?”
Coulthard: “Yeah I have. I’ve just been imagining it’s your nipples. I’m being a bit more gentle with it when I take my finger off it at the end of the pit lane.”
Louise later noted that “David’s always had a bit of an obsession with breasts, but I don’t suppose he’s alone in that.”
Here’s hoping that Coulthard finds his way onto the BBC’s Formula One coverage next year because his popularity would certainly warrant it. Many fans, myself included, will look back on DC’s career with a smile.
As Coulthard himself recently said “I am proud of bringing some unique moments to F1 as, if you don’t win the championship, then you have to be remembered for something.”