Teams David Marshall Coulthard
535By Jeremy McMullen
From the hotels, to the supermodel girlfriends, to the yachts, to the tough competitive driving on the race track David Coulthard could not be any more of a throwback to the wild days of the 1960s when hard racing would be followed-up with hard living. But just like the era in which he would drive, his life as a grand prix racer would have a modern twist to it.
Like so many grand prix stars, David Marshall Coulthard's beginnings start well away from the blue waters of the Mediterranean. In 1971, on the 27th of March, David Coulthard would be born in Dumfries, Scotland to Joyce and Duncan Coulthard.
Living in the nearby village of Twynholm, David would be exposed to automobiles from the very first moments of his life. In 1916 Peter Coulthard established a haulage company named after his eldest son. Hayton Coulthard would start out quite small with just a motorbike and a sidecar as the first business vehicle. Not despising the day of small beginnings, the company would continue to grow. However, Hayton would not be interested in the company and would go into farming instead.
Hayton's brother, Jimmy, would take over the business and would expand it. Soon, the company would form another division known as Dunmhor Transport. This was so named after Jimmy's two children Duncan and Morag.
In 1959 Jimmy would die leaving Duncan to quit school to help run the business alongside of his mother. Duncan was just 14 at the time. By 1967, Duncan was running the company full-time. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the company would thrive. The wealth from the business provided Duncan's soon-to-be eleven year old son with an opportunity.
By the time David was ten years old the turbocharged era in Formula One was in full-swing. And being around the trucking business all his life gave him the desire to go into racing. David would actually drive karts very early on in his life. But when he was permitted, at the age of 11, DC would enter karting on a competitive basis. Duncan would lend his full support to his son's decision and would use the finances afforded him from his haulage company to fund David's pursuit. Duncan would purchase David's equipment and would pay the costs associated with going racing each and every weekend.
Father's investment would begin paying off rather quickly. Within a half a dozen years David was winning local championships and longed for even better competition. This would lead to him heading south.
In 1985 David would win the Cumbria Kart Racing Club championship and would be poised to enter larger formulas. It would be during this time that Coulthard would meet and befriend fellow Scot Allan McNish.
David would follow up the Cumbria Kart Racing Club championship by winning the Scottish Open Kart Championship 1986. In that same year, Coulthard would become the British Super Kart 1 Champion as well. He would repeat as the Scottish Open Kart Champion in 1987 and again in 1988 while he would again be the British Super Kart 1 Champion in 1987.
After just a few short years of driving karts Coulthard would rise into the ranks of Formula Ford racing. In 1989, his first year in Formula Ford, David would win the Dunlop/Autosport Championship and the P&O Ferries Junior Championship. This would earn him the very first, and prestigious, McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award.
Just as Coulthard's career was really beginning to takeoff he would come crashing back down to earth. In 1990, while racing at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, David would suffer a terrible crash that would end with him breaking his legs. This would bring about the end of his season. But just when his career seemed to come to a momentary halt McLaren would come calling. By the end of the year, Coulthard would complete a test for the Formula One giant.
Over the next three years Coulthard would experience a number of memorable moments including winning the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort and the Macau Grand Prix in 1991. Then, in 1992, Coulthard would make the move to Formula 3000. The following year, David would finish 3rd in the Formula 3000 championship.
The same year in which Coulthard would finish 3rd in Formula 3000, he would earn the role of test driver for a Formula One team. He could not have joined a more powerful team when he came to Williams-Renault in 1993. Nigel Mansell had taken the title in 1992 with one of the most advanced cars ever seen in Formula One. The dominance would continue in Coulthard's first year with the team as Alain Prost would earn yet another World Championship.
Often overlooked, Coulthard would take part in another very important race in 1993. The name Tom Walkinshaw and Le Mans are about as synonymous as grand prix racing and Monaco. And in 1993, David would partner with John Nielsen and David Brabham in driving a Jaguar XJ220 C in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Arrayed in a dark green and blue livery, the Jaguar would start the race 22nd on the grid and would come in some 69 laps behind the winner. However, the car would be disqualified for having an illegal exhaust. This would bring about the end to Coulthard's Le Mans career, at least to date.
The 1994 season would see Coulthard and the Williams-Renault team suffer great tragedy and become the center of a great hailstorm of worldwide accusation and vilifying. Ayrton Senna's death at Imola in May would cap-off perhaps the darkest weekend in Formula One history and it would cause Williams to be placed in the crosshairs of a very angry and mourning public. Despite being in just his second year with the team, Coulthard would find himself right in the middle of everything performing demonstrations and adding his professional opinion to help explain the reason for the World Champion's death.
In spite of Senna's death and the following investigation, the 1994 season would carry on. Coulthard would end up beginning his Formula One career amidst the tragedy and the in-depth investigations. He would drive eight races alongside Damon Hill. The highlight of the season would come at what was to be his last race of the season, the Portuguese Grand Prix. In that race, Coulthard would set the fastest lap of the race and would follow Hill home to complete a one-two finish for Williams-Renault. In spite of the 2nd place result, Coulthard would be replaced by Nigel Mansell for the remaining three races of the season. It was suggested Mansell had been hired to drive the final three races since it was desirable to have another big name driving alongside Hill.
The 1995 season would see Coulthard firmly planted in the seat of the second car. His season, despite some unforced mistakes and reliability issues would be quite successful. He would go on to score four 2nd place finishes and would be on the podium some eight times. His greatest moment of the season would come at the very same track in which he scored his first podium, Portugal and Estoril. The race would see a clean sweep by the Scot. He would go on to earn the pole, beating out his Williams teammate. When the race started, Coulthard would immediately be on the pace. And by the 2nd lap he would set the fastest lap. Because of his pace, Coulthard would cruise to victory with a margin of more than seven seconds over Michael Schumacher. This was a great moment in the season for Coulthard. Not only would it be his first victory in Formula One, but it would also help shore up his eventual 3rd place in the standings at the end of the season. And although the season had been marked with some more errors in judgment and reliability woes there was no denying Coulthard's abilities as he would prove quite capable and fast winning five pole-positions on the season. Four of those poles would come in consecutive races.
Before starting his first race for Williams-Renault, David had signed a contract to race with McLaren. However, this contract would be considered void. In would end up being a blessing as those couple of years would be a time of struggle for the once dominant constructor. Nonetheless, when his contract with Williams-Renault had come to an end, David would join Mika Hakkinen at McLaren.
Coulthard's first couple of years with McLaren-Mercedes was mostly forgettable. In 1996, the car lacked out-right speed. The following year would see improvement and Coulthard would end the season tied for 3rd in the championship after Schumacher's disqualification from the championship. His placement in the standings would have been better were it not for gearbox and engine woes at Canada while he was leading the race. His car would stall because of mechanical issues costing him the lead of the race. What would be worse was the fact the race would be red flagged and deemed over just a few minutes after his stop due to a crash out on the circuit. Had he not come into the pits he likely would have won the race.
Coulthard thought he had lost out on another race he should have won when Schumacher tangled with Villeneuve at Jerez. Just after the incident team orders had been passed telling Coulthard to allow Hakkinen through to take 2nd place. However, just moments later Villeneuve would wave the two McLarens through thereby handing the victory to Hakkinen. It could have been Coulthard's victory had it not been for the team orders.
1998 would seem like the perfect time for Coulthard to assert himself in the team. However, mechanical woes would mar his season. In contrast, Hakkinen would be dominant. Coulthard would end the season with just one victory and 3rd in the championship standings.
The following year would see the Scot score one more victory than the previous season. But again, it would be Hakkinen that would seem to have providence on his side. While Coulthard would struggle with mechanical woes, Hakkinen would put together a strong end to the season to score his second World Championship. Unfortunately, the struggles Coulthard would experience throughout the season would end up costing McLaren the Constructors Championship to Ferrari.
The 2000 season would see a tough start made by both of the McLarens while Schumacher scored three-straight victories to kick the season off. Amongst the McLaren drivers it would be Coulthard that would get his season on track the quickest. By the time the French Grand Prix had ended, which was just past the halfway mark in the season, Coulthard was in 2nd place in the Drivers' Championship standings behind Schumacher. David had three victories to Hakkinen's one.
The French Grand Prix, to many, seemed to be one of Coulthard's greatest races and seemed to pull out a whole different level of Coulthard. David had already been known as a hard-charging driver not afraid to mix it up with anyone, especially Schumacher. But at Magny Cours, Coulthard would not be bullied. In fact, he would be the one doing to bullying. Famous for the 'gesture' the French Grand Prix would see Coulthard dig extra deep and rally his way to victory.
Many would attribute this new passion and drive on the circuit for what he would experience just a week or so after the British Grand Prix. While flying in a Learjet owned by friend David Murray, the engines would develop problems. The plane's pilots, David Saunders and Dan Worley, would attempt to land at Lyon-Satolas airport in France. Unfortunately, the landing would go badly. The plane would finally come to a stop with the nose buried into the ground and broken off from the rest of the fuselage. While Saunders and Worley would die in the accident, Coulthard, and those with him, would escape out the emergency window out the side of the plane. Coulthard and those with him would be found relatively unharmed. They would be taken to a hospital only later to be released.
However, over the course of the four races Hakkinen would put together one of his patented late-season charges. It would see him score three wins out of four races. And by the time the season headed into the final four races of the season Coulthard would find himself back in 3rd place, seven points behind Schumacher and thirteen points behind Hakkinen. The remaining four races would see Schumacher dominate. After four-straight victories, Schumacher would have his third World Championship and Coulthard would find himself 3rd once again.
The next four years would be the years of the 'prancing horse'. Coulthard would lead the McLaren-Mercedes charge in 2001. But despite scoring two victories and scoring 65 points, Coulthard would end a far distant 2nd in the championship to Schumacher. Over the next three years the distant 2nd Coulthard would achieve in 2001 would be about as close as anyone would get to Schumacher and Ferrari. After the 2nd place in 2001, Coulthard and McLaren would struggle. He would end up 5th in the standings in 2002 followed by 7th in 2003 and 10th in 2004. The only highlights throughout those three years would come at Melbourne, Australia in 2003 and Monaco in 2002 when he would drive a superb, faultless, race to score his second victory at the hallowed circuit.
During his time with McLaren-Mercedes Coulthard would expand his commercial interests outside of racing. Thinking of those days when he would hang up his helmet, Coulthard would use his experience growing up around the family business to enter the business world himself. Living for years within the principality of Monaco, Coulthard would come to own the Columbus Hotel Monaco. Opened in 2001, the Columbus Hotel Monaco is one of Monaco's many four star hotels. Designed in the Italian Riviera design, Coulthard would help the hotel become what the New York Times described as, 'a very special and secret world'. David would sell his part in the hotel in 2010.
In addition to the Columbus Hotel Monaco, David would come to own a number of luxury hotels around London. In addition to his commercial interests, Coulthard could be found around Monaco training hard, but also, golfing and yachting, which is something that he truly enjoys with friends and family.
Being one of the best grand prix drivers at the time, as well as, living in Monaco would cause Coulthard to be seen dating some of the most famous models in all the world. In 2000, Coulthard was in a relationship with Heidi Wichlinski. This relationship would end in 2001. He would then be involved in a much longer relationship with Brazilian model Simone Abdelnour. However, like his career with McLaren-Mercedes, this relationship would come to an end in 2005.
Much like his relationship to Abdelnour, David's relationship with McLaren-Mercedes was coming to an end. Struggles for performance and reliability would strain everyone within the team. In addition to the performance woes, the presence of Kimi Raikkonen as a new teammate would cause additional stresses. When Hakkinen took his sabbatical at the end of the 2001 season it was fair to believe the team would throw its full weight behind Coulthard. However, it would become painfully obvious this was not to be so. While not necessarily public, it was clear Coulthard's days with McLaren were numbered. Then, at the end of the 2004 season, it was finally announced Juan Pablo Montoya would join Kimi Raikkonen at McLaren. David was out of a ride, but not for long.
The former Stewart Grand Prix Team would become Jaguar Racing at the turn of the century. However, after a few years of competition it was clear the Jaguar team had problems and was going absolutely nowhere. Toward the end of the 2004 season, Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull, would step forward to purchase the Jaguar team. Immediately, changes would be made.
Despite being just 25 years old, Christian Horner had decided that managing a racing team was more for him than doing the actual racing. Managing a Formula 3000 team Horner would become quite successful and Mateschitz would take notice of this. As a result, Horner would be hired as Team Principal for the newly formed Red Bull Racing team.
But while a lot of changes were being made it was clear the team had great need for a veteran driver that could help with development and provide solid driving. The team already hired Christian Klien to drive one of the cars. He was the talented youngster. The team then needed its experienced veteran. Horner would approach Coulthard about driving for the new team. Liking the idea of being able to influence a team's direction, David would agree to come on as the team's lead driver.
Over the course of his career at McLaren, David had earned a reputation as a very good technical driver and one that could communicate well with the engineers exactly what was going on with a car corner by corner. This would be very important as the new team would set about making some tweaks to what was essentially the same Jaguar chassis that had raced in 2004. Dubbed the RB1, the Cosworth-powered car would make its first appearance for Red Bull Racing at the first round of the 2005 Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix.
Coulthard would prove he was relishing his new role. At the start of the Australian Grand Prix, with a car from a team that could do no better than the middle of the pack over the previous couple of seasons, David would shoot to the inside and would end up in 4th place after the first couple of turns. From then on, Coulthard would put together one of his patented tough performances fending off competitors and running as high as 2nd at one point. By the end of the race it was clear Red Bull was an entirely different team. Using every bit of his vast experience extracting everything possible from the car Coulthard would come across the line a well earned 4th place.
Over the course of the season, Red Bull Racing would be a revelation. Coulthard would be as much a reason for the team's rise from Jaguar's ashes as anything or anyone else. Under his driver leadership, Red Bull Racing would garner more points in its first two races than Jaguar had managed over the course of the entire 2004 season.
The following season would be much more of a struggle than its first year. However, Coulthard would provide one highlight when he managed to hold on for a 2nd place result, the team's first podium, at Monaco.
Coulthard realized he had many years of experience and had worked with a great number of people throughout his tenure in Formula One. Therefore, he would use his place of influence within Red Bull to help attract some of the best people in the sport. One of those that he would help to influence would be the great Technical Chief Adrian Newey. Coulthard had worked with Newey for more than a decade with both having been at Williams and then at McLaren.
Knowing Newey was on board, Coulthard wanted to remain with Red Bull for at least another year. 2007 would be another tough year as the new Newey-designed car would exhibit a number of teething problems. However, Coulthard would go on to achieve the team's first points of the season at the Bahrain and Spanish Grand Prix.
The 2008 season would be Coulthard's 14th year in Formula One. In only the second season with Newey as Technical Chief, the season would still start out poorly. Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes were the dominant teams. Despite this, Coulthard would manage to earn a 3rd place result in the Canadian Grand Prix. This was a sign of the things to come for the team. But for Coulthard, it was to be one last moment amongst the best. It was his 62nd podium of his career.
Just prior to the British Grand Prix a few weeks later Coulthard would announce his retirement from racing, but not Formula One. In the conference he would announce that he would remain with Red Bull as a consultant.
It was clear David had other things on the horizon for his life. In 2005, Coulthard would begin dating Karen Minier, a Belgian Formula One correspondent for French TV channel TF1. The two would become engaged in 2006 but would not yet marry. Then, in November of 2008, just a couple of weeks after his final grand prix, David and Karen would enjoy the birth of their first child, Dayton.
David's last race, his 246th start, unfortunately would not be anywhere near as memorable as the birth of his first child. Adorned in a special livery promoting the charity 'Wings for Life', Coulthard's final race would last just two corners before he would be hit from behind by Kazuki Nakajima in a car from the very team in which he had broken into Formula One, a Williams.
It would be an unfortunate way in which to bring about the end of a career. Nevertheless, the blue saltire adorning Coulthard's helmet would no longer be seen on Formula One grids. Putting his career into perspective would be a very challenging experience. While there were many that would say he would never be World Champion, and they would be right, he would still make the case for himself as one of Britain's greats.
He would be amongst a small field of drivers making more than 200 starts in their career. He would end up his career with 13 victories, 62 podiums and an astonishing 535 career points. Over the course of those 14 years in which he competed in Formula One he would earn 12 pole positions and 18 fastest laps. And while he would have a few moments throughout his career, Coulthard would be widely regarded as one of the sport's gentleman drivers. This genuineness and gentlemanliness would lead to him almost effortlessly falling into his next career.
Although Coulthard would step away from racing in Formula One he would not stray very far. From 2009 onwards, David has worked for the BBC in their Formula One coverage. He would be a part of the broadcast team as a pundit but would move to the commentator's box in 2011.
In addition to his commentary work with BBC, Coulthard would remain as a consultant for Red Bull. In no small way, David would be responsible for the double World Championship the team would experience in 2010 and 2011.
As a testament to his character and ability to forge lasting relationships, Coulthard remains as an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz. In spite of being away from McLaren-Mercedes for years, Coulthard still experiences special access to the team and has even been involved in demonstration drives, one of which included his former teammate Mika Hakkinen and him driving different evolutions of the company's old W196 chassis.
Never losing the passion for motorsports, Coulthard would throw his hat into the ring of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) in 2010. Driving for Mucke Motorsport, David would partner with Ralf Schumacher for the 2011 season.
Besides his commentary work for the BBC, Coulthard's latest efforts include a number of promotions for Red Bull in preparation of the return of Formula One to the United States. He would have the honor of being the first driver on the new Circuit of the Americas. In the promotion, he would be seen driving one of the Red Bull demonstration cars on the still unpaved circuit.
Already having received his share of awards and honors, in 2010, Coulthard would be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2010. He would receive the honor in the 2010 Birthday Honors.
Although coming into Formula One at the beginning of the rise of the technological age in Formula One, Coulthard would be one of the few that would be just at home going wheel-to-wheel as in the days of old. Technically adept, David would be one of the first behind the wheel of a new car.
When combined with his business acumen, David Coulthard's career will live on well beyond the edges of the racing circuit much like fellow Scot Jackie Stewart. And while he may be something of a throwback in driving style, he would be fortunate to come to Formula One in an age in which drivers are capable of living long enough to think about a career outside the circuit. For that, he would have to thank the man in which he replaced back in 1994.Sources:
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