David Coulthard

David Coulthard


<font face="Tahoma" size="2">David Marshall Coulthard was born in Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire. With great parental encouragement, David was driving karts by the age of eight and was such a natural that it was inevitable that he would go racing.

His breakthrough came in 1989, with his move into junior Formula Ford 1600. He dominated both championships, and joined Paul Stewart Racing in 1990 to contest the British Vauxhall Lotus Challenge and GM Lotus Euroseries. He could possibly have won the former, but a broken leg sustained in an accident at Spa stymied the young Scot's chances, and he ended up a disappointed fourth overall.

Staying with PSR in 1991, Coulthard moved up to Formula 3, and waged a season-long battle with Rubens Barrichello. Despite winning five rounds (one more than the Brazilian), he had to be content with the runner-up spot. There was, however, the satisfaction of winning the prestigious European Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 race at Zandvoort and he followed this up with a stunning drive to win the end-of-season race at Macau - proof indeed that David was truly a star in the making.

Perhaps expectations were too high as he took the step up to F3000 for 1992 and for a while the Scot struggled to find his feet, but by the end of the year he was on the podium and looking a good bet for honours in 1993 with a switch to the Pacific team.

A first win was duly delivered at Enna, but his season tailed off somewhat thereafter. By this time David had had a number of outings as a test driver for the Williams-Renault team and he quickly impressed all at Didcot with his positive feedback.

He was appointed the team's official test driver for 1994 and was contemplating a third year in F3000 at the season-opener at Silverstone when the dreadful news of Senna's death came from Imola. David overcame his shock to take second place in that race before stepping into the Grand Prix arena and, in the inevitable turmoil that followed, displayed remarkable maturity for one so inexperienced.

Relaxed and easy off track, he showed tremendous poise behind the wheel. Always aware of the need for him to back Damon Hill's title bid, David was the perfect team-mate and, given his performances, must have been disappointed to have to surrender his seat to Nigel Mansell for the last three races of the year.

The uncertainty regarding his immediate future was clearly unsettling for Coulthard, who hedged his bets and signed a contract with McLaren for 1995. In the event a tribunal confirmed that he would remain at Williams but his early-season form was decidedly patchy. He was constantly troubled by tonsillitis and it was only after his tonsils were removed that his real ability became apparent. David would have won the British Grand Prix but for a stop-go penalty incurred through no fault of his own, but his dream of a Grand Prix win was finally realised with a truly dominant performance at Estoril. On the debit side, though, he tended to make a number of elementary mistakes which cost him dear, culminating in the embarrassment of sliding into the wall on the pit lane entry in Adelaide.

David was free to move to McLaren for 1996, but all his innate self-assurance was needed during a difficult first full season with the team. Uncomfortable with the handling of the car, he was often a tad slower than team-mate Mika Hakkinen and, apart from being unlucky not to win in Monaco, generally delivered less than he promised.

The 1997 season began in the best possible fashion with a win in Australia which signified that McLaren were back after three lean years, and it was generally a much more convincing campaign for the Scot, who was evenly matched with Hakkinen and, having scored another victory at Monza, stepped aside to allow his team-mate to win the season's finale at Jerez.

He did the same in the 1998 Australian Grand Prix after a pre-race agreement and in some ways it proved to be his undoing. Hakkinen upped his game as the season progressed to mount his successful championship bid and David was left to play the subordinate role in the team.

This pattern was to continue in 1999, with the often unlucky Coulthard too rarely making the absolute most of his equipment. On his day he had the legs of everybody, and no one could catch him at Spa, Magny Cours or Sepang, but only the first of these races brought him the win he deserved.

In 2000, he was involved in a tight battle for the drivers championship with Schumacher and Häkkinen, but eventually fell out of contention into a disappointing third place finish. In 2001 he finished the year in second place, but with barely half the points (65) tallied by runaway winner Schumacher (123).

Coulthard's subsequent years at McLaren were disappointing, as he was regularly out-paced by younger teammate Kimi Räikkönen. Many of Coulthard's critics argue that his decline began in 2003, when the FIA introduced the single-lap qualifying format. Since his Formula Three days, Coulthard had had the reputation of being a poor qualifier. He openly admitted that he did not like the format and was a vocal opponent of the format. With the announcement that Juan Pablo Montoya was to join McLaren in 2005 alongside Räikkönen, 2004 was to be Coulthard's last year with the team. A poor tenth place finish in the final 2004 standings (24 points, equal with the injured Ralf Schumacher) had not helped Coulthard's cause for 2005 either.

Red Bull Racing were attracted by Coulthard's experience and signed him for the 2005 Formula One season. He was teamed with the inexperienced Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Coulthard's contract at Red Bull Racing was also extended prior to the 2005 British Grand Prix, prolonging his Formula One career to at least the end of 2006. Coulthard's stint at Red Bull was a renewal for the Scottish driver, who scored points in many races and became one of the more outspoken and media savvy drivers.

For 2006, Coulthard continued at Red Bull, partnered again with Christian Klien. For 2006, Red Bull Racing were powered by Ferrari engines, with a contract for Renault engines agreed for 2007 during the 2006 season. Technical director Adrian Newey joined the team from McLaren to design the 2007 car. These positive developments led Coulthard to state that he wished to remain with the team after the 2006 season, and to add to his victory tally with them.[citation needed] On August 7, 2006, the day after the Hungarian Grand Prix where Coulthard finished 5th, it was announced the he had extended his contract with Red Bull Racing for 2007 and would be teamed up with Mark Webber.

Among active F1 drivers, Coulthard has the third most wins (13), behind his former teammate Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso. Coulthard is the highest-scoring British driver ever with 527 points (as of the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix), beating Nigel Mansell's previous record of 482 points. At the 2006 Spanish Grand Prix he also became the 8th member of Formula One's "200 Club", joining Riccardo Patrese, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Gerhard Berger, Andrea de Cesaris, Nelson Piquet and Jean Alesi in the list of drivers to have competed in 200 Grands Prix. In the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, Coulthard scored his first podium finish with Red Bull Racing, his best result with the team and also the team's first podium finish. During the trophy presentation, Coulthard wore a red cape as the team was promoting the film "Superman Returns".

After a slow start to the 2007 season, Coulthard delivered two strong drives at the Bahrain Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix where he picked up the team's first points of the season. On July 6, 2007, Red Bull Racing announced that Coulthard's contract had been extended to the end of 2008.

Coulthard had a bad start to his 2008 campaign after a racing incident with Massa. The Sun newspaper had Coulthard quoting his dissatisfaction with the move itself and Massa's unwillingness to admit fault.

"I admit I did the same thing to Alex [Wurz] last year, but I admitted it and apologised. He had better. If he doesn't, I'll knock three colours of shit out of the little bastard ".

At the second race in Malaysia Coulthard suffered a bad suspension failure which saw his Red Bull team investigated for car safety. Although cleared to drive, the lack of testing time had a negative impact on his race performance, managing only a 9th place finish.

Coulthard has lived for some time in the tax haven principality of Monaco, and also owns homes in London and Switzerland. He owns several luxury hotels in Britain and Monaco, including the Columbus, which is located in Monaco's Fontvieille.

On 2 May 2000, while leasing the Learjet of friend David Murray, the aeroplane developed engine trouble while on route to Côte d'Azur International Airport in Nice, and crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Lyon-Satolas airport, France. Coulthard, his then girlfriend the American model Heidi Wichlinski and personal trainer/bodyguard Andy Matthews survived; whilst Murray's personal pilot David Saunders and co-pilot Dan Worley were killed.

According to tabloid reports, Coulthard has been associated with a number of women. However, in a BBC interview, Coulthard vigorously denied these claims, stating that the tabloid reports were "out of date and inaccurate." He has been associated with a string of women, including supermodel Heidi Klum, Lady Victoria Hervey, and models Andrea Murray and Ruth Taylor. He has been engaged to models Heidi Wichlinski and Simone Abdelnour.

On 2 June 2006, He became engaged to Karen Minier, a Belgian Formula One correspondent for French TV channel TF1 The couple planned to marry "in the near future".

The museum in his home village dedicated to Coulthard is currently independently run by local fan Wendy McKenzie after previously being run by Coulthard's family. It is now the home of the "Twynosi" (A cross between Twynholm and Italian Ferrari fans, the Tifosi) who gather on race days.

On 7 August 2007, Coulthard released his autobiography, entitled "It is What It Is". In it, he admits that he suffered from bulimia as a teenager.

Coulthard's second cousin, New Zealander Fabian Coulthard, is also a racing driver.

'Who is Who' by Steve Small with updates.

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