In terms of race wins, ‘DC’ is the second most successful driver on the grid this year and the second most experienced in terms of race starts. This is David’s 15th Formula One season and it’s a sign of his worth that Red Bull Racing is only his third home in all that time. He spent his first two years with Williams, following that with a loyal nine years’ service for McLaren. In terms of points scored, he is the leading British driver in the history of the sport.
The past 14 years have also produced some big numbers: 228 race starts, making him the fourth most experienced racer of all time, and 527 points scored, a total beaten only by Schumacher, Prost and Senna. His 13 wins to date put Coulthard 18th in the all-time winners list. Oh, and he has also produced one autobiography (It Is What It Is, available from all good bookshops) which shows remarkable restraint compared with other athletes who write their life story just a year or so after leaving school.
The 2008 season is Coulthard’s fourth with Red Bull Racing and, having been here since Day One, David is now very much part of its fabric, with a contribution that goes beyond mere cockpit time. All Coulthard’s F1 wins have come in cars designed by Adrian Newey and getting to drive another Newey-penned car in 2007 was something David had looked forward to for some time. Towards the end of the year, there were signs that improved reliability would allow the car’s performance potential to shine through in 2008.
Coulthard has won the ‘classic’ Grands Prix in Monaco, Britain, Belgium and Italy, but he singles out his French GP victory in 2000 as his most satisfying, as it was a really hard-fought win from third on the grid. Words such as ‘veteran’ and ‘elder statesman’ are the lazy shorthand used to describe David. However, listen to the air turn blue on the car-to-pit radio or watch the mechanics run for cover as he comes back to the pits when things don’t go to plan and it’s clear that the fire still burns brightly.
At this season's British Grand Prix, DC announced that this would be his final year as a Formula One driver, but he'll continue to work with the team to help test and develop cars in 2009. But in the menatime, as he keeps reminding us, there's the small matter of ending his final year on a high. He's going to fight for every point available until the final lap of Brazil...