When it comes to British Formula One legends, there are few drivers who can claim to have enjoyed a career as eventful and colourful as that of David Coulthard. Born in Dumfries, Scotland, on March 27th 1971, David Marshall Coulthard is one Britain’s best loved Formula One icons. After a career that spanned over 14 years, Coulthard retired from the sport in 2008 with 62 podium finishes under his belt, including 12 poles.
Like many Formula One drivers, David Coulthard began his racing education behind the wheel of a go-kart. After graduating to Formula Ford in 1989, Coulthard also won the first ever McClaren/Autosport Young Driver of the year award, highlighting his growing reputation as Britain’s most exciting young driver of the time. However, a broken leg suffered at the Circuit d Spa-Francorchamps in 1990 put the young star’s career on hold for over a year. After recovering from his injuries, Coulthard returned to the world of racing by finishing pole in Formula Three races in the Netherlands and China. In 1992 and 1993 he raced in the Formula 3000 series, finishing 9th his debut season and 3rd in his second. It was also in 1993 that Coulthard became a test driver for the Williams-Renault team, a role in which he flourished; playing an important role in advancing’s the team’s technology.
In 1994, after the tragic death of Ayrton Senna, Coulthard was promoted to the Williams-Renault race team alongside fellow British driver Damon Hill. For the next two seasons, Coulthard continue driving for Williams-Renault with mixed success. In 1995, he finished pole in the Portuguese Grand Prix, but his season was otherwise tarnished by a number of high profile errors that prevented him adding to this win.
In 1996, Coulthard left Williams-Renault for the Mercedes powered McLaren team, where he teamed up with Finnish driver Mikka Hakkinen. Although his first season with his team was a relatively unsuccessful one, the 1997 season was much more promising, with Coulthard finishing joint 3rd in the driver’s championship. However, like with earlier campaigns, this could have been greatly improved upon if it had not been for a number of high profile errors, including stalling his car during a pit stop in a race in which he was comfortably leading. 1998 brought further success, with McClaren winning the constructers championship and Coulthard’s team mate Hakkinen winning the driver’s. Although some considered his role to be something of a supporting one, Coulthard’s presence in the McClaren team played an important part of the team’s success that year. Arguably Coulthard’s most successful period as a driver came between 1999 and 2002 where he finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd in the driver’s championship. However, the success of Michael Schumacher during this period meant that the top spot was always out of reach.
In 2005, Coulthard left McClaren to join with the newly formed Red Bull team, where he remained for three years before retiring in 2008 at the age of 37. In a career that saw him compete in 247 Formula One races, Coulthard collected 535 points; a British record.