BY CHERYL TAY
The New Paper
23 September 2011
THERE’S no love lost between them.
Back in 2000, David Coulthard famously showed Michael Schumacher the middle finger when the McLaren-Mercedes driver overtook the German to take the lead and win the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
A little more than a decade later, the 40-year-old Scot has fired another broadside at the seven-time world champion, who now races for Mercedes.
Coulthard believes that his former rival has lost touch with the modern F1 racing scene.
“I think he (Schumacher) is free to do whatever he wants to do. If Mercedes gives him the opportunity, then absolutely, it is his decision,” Coulthard told The New Paper in an interview at the Infiniti Dynamic Drive Event at Changi Exhibition Centre yesterday.
“But what I think what it’s quite clear is that Michael has not adapted to this modern F1 and he wasn’t able to perform at the same level that he was able to in his first part of his career.”
Nowadays, Coulthard works as a commentator and pundit for BBC TV and is also a team consultant to Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.
He hung up his gloves after the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.
“The salary’s not as good, but life after Formula One is good. I’ve never feared the day of retirement and was always prepared for the day,” said Coulthard, who made his F1 debut in 1994 and won 13 Grand Prix titles in a career spanning 15 seasons.
“In fact, I didn’t feel anything when I watched the 2009 Melbourne Grand Prix – the first F1 race after my retirement.
“I’ve not missed racing because sport is something that happens during a certain period of your life and it’s not something you can do until you are 65.
“I did 15 seasons and there was never a quiet period. I was always competing for the top teams and it’s a lot more demanding on your time.”
If given a chance to make a comeback to the sport, would he follow in Schumi’s footsteps?
The answer is a resounding NO.
Coulthard said: “The journey’s done. I can’t better what I did the first time around. I’m not going to win a championship now at 40 years old.
“The opportunity is not there for me to take that challenge, but I’m not motivated to take that challenge.
“I’m very lucky I still get to do some hobby racing in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series and I get to travel with the Red Bull show car.
“It is not the same car they race but it reminds you how special these cars are.”
When he was still competing, the one thing Coulthard really enjoyed was working with the engineers to design and create something that the driver needs.
So what’s the biggest peeve he has about the sport?
“Don’t take this the wrong way – but the thing I didn’t enjoy about F1 is maybe the media,” said Coulthard with a smile.
“Now that I am on the other side of the table as part of the media, I try to bea rin mind the position of a driver.
“As sportsmen, we just want to compete. So I totally understand if the drivers are not willing to do all the promotional stuff.”
*This was first published in The New Paper.