One of retired Formula 1 driver David Coulthard’s most memorable moments of his racing career was in 2000 at Magny-Cours when he famously gave Michael Schumacher the finger while he passed him to take the lead and win the race.
Coulthard is still very much involved in the sport, as a BBC F1 TV commentator and pundit, as well as team consultant to Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso. He was in Singapore last week at the Infiniti Dynamic Drive event at Changi Exhibition Centre, where I got the chance to speak with him…
How is life after Formula 1?
The salary’s not as good but life after F1 is good. I didn’t fear the day I retired and was always prepared. I’m someone who needs to be busy so I had contracts ready for me when I retired.
Do you miss driving?
I’ve not missed driving because sports is something that happens during a period of your life and not something you can do until you are 65 years old, unless it’s a less physically demanding sport unlike F1. I’m not a young man anymore and my journey is complete. In fact, I didn’t feel anything when I watched the 2009 Melbourne Grand Prix, the first F1 race after my retirement.
How did you know it was time to retire?
You start to think about it — the minute you start to think then you know it’s time. I did 15 seasons of F1 and there was never a quiet period. I was always with a top team and that was a lot more demanding on your time.
If given a chance to make a comeback to F1, will you?
No, the journey’s done. I’m not going to win a championship if I come back. I’m not motivated to take that challenge and the opportunity is not there for me to take that challenge. I’m incredibly lucky that I still get do some hobby racing at DTM and I run Red Bull Racing’s show car. It’s not the same as the cars they are driving in F1 but it still reminds you of how special these cars are.
Do you think Michael Schumacher should continue racing?
I think he should do whatever it is that he wants to do. If Mercedes gives him the opportunity then yeah absolutely, it is his decision. But what I think is, it’s quite clear Michael has not adapted to this modern F1, to the same level that he was able to perform in his first part of his career.
What do you think of this season?
If you are a Red Bull fan, it’s perfect. If you’re not a Red Bull fan you’d probably be disappointed. It is remarkable what Red Bull is doing. People like Ferrari and McLaren are car manufacturer teams and they have to win in F1, but the fact that they are trying to find a way to beat Red Bull, that shows what a great achievement it is.
What do you think of women drivers in general?
Women are better drivers; there are less insurance claims from women. But one thing — they have to stop putting mascara while they are driving.
Should there be more night races?
The standard format of having the race in the day is well understood. Majority of the races are in Europe and are in the day. If we change it to night, then everyone will have to stay over to Monday and that means increasing costs and also people have to take time off work or spend time away from family. What about more night races in Asia? In terms of climate, that’s fine as night is cooler. But it would be a bit of a disaster for European broadcasters as the race goes on until 5am in the morning.
What do you love most about F1?
What I would always love most about F1 is working with the engineers. You don’t need to be in F1 to race. I’ve always enjoyed working with someone who’s able to design and create something you need as a driver.
What did you not like most about F1?
Don’t take this the wrong way — but the thing I didn’t enjoy about F1 is maybe the media. Now I am on that side of the table as media, but I try to bear in mind the position of the drivers. For sports people, you just want to compete. If you can be paid to compete that’s great. And if you didn’t have to do all the promotional side of things — then that’s Heaven isn’t it?