David Coulthard has spoken extensively about his hopes for the 2008 season, his concerns about safety in the wet and the chance afforded him by his recent autobiography to look back over his racing career.
He has also talked about what he thinks his team Red Bull Racing needs to do to become more competitive, the effect of reading his autobiography on family members and his time as a driver at McLaren.
In the interview he talks about the process of updating the book, entitled ‘It Is What It Is’, for paperback release and asking his former boss at McLaren, Ron Dennis, to write the foreword.
He says: “There is an underlying respect I have for Ron, and later in the year when I was getting closer to the publication date, I think he was busy with Alonso hating him and 100 million dollars fines and all that. So I didn’t push him to get the foreword, and it actually arrived a week after the book went to publication.
“So it is included in the paperback, which will be coming out soon. The best thing that has come out of doing the book is his foreword, it is fantastic. It really is good because he takes on the chin my criticisms, he takes it like a man, and acknowledges the relationship below the ups and downs. Even if you just flick through the foreword in a bookshop and don’t buy the book, you will enjoy that.
“That is one of the best things that came out of it. Nine years there was longer than any other relationship I’ve had in my life, so it is a big part of my life and it was great to see his take on our time together. It all sounds very romantic!”
He also considers the future of the British Grand Prix, amid the constant rumours that it is about to be knocked off the calendar, and concludes that not to hold the race would be “bizarre” and “impossible to imagine”.
He says: “At the end of day F1 is a business and Mr Ecclestone has developed the business in such a way that a lot of people have become financially successful and the viewing figures continue to grow and the track attendances appear to be stable.
“But the main money is coming from the television money rather than spectators at the track, so that is a harsh reality of the business model but the popularity of F1 still appears to grow and as it grows these countries in the emerging markets will want to publicise themselves — and there is no better way to do that than F1.
“…When I first went there in the late 1980s and early 1990s to watch the Grand Prix, I camped like a lot of you probably have done, and waddled around in the mud. I remember when I first started in Formula Ford, I remember washing my hair in the cold water in the toilets. It wasn’t very glamorous, but I’ve upgraded to a motorhome since then so I’m a bit more comfortable.”
Coulthard discusses some of the safety issues currently in the news, especially the issue of wet running, and encounters the usual questions about the relationship between drivers, their enjoyment of racing, the salary they get paid to do it and the need to manage risk without taking all the excitement out of the sport.
“I am very conscious, and you probably see me saying this time to time, that as I am the oldest driver, it can be seen as ‘the old boys are nervous about going out in those conditions’, but talking in detail about the difficulty of Fuji-type races, I can assure you that the younger drivers who maybe haven’t been quite so vocal to the public, in the drivers’ meeting are extremely vocal about how difficult the conditions were, and how we got lucky and no one got hurt.
“I say that partly to defend myself so you don’t think, I’m old boy gone soft, but it is not just a view held by myself. It is held by every single driver, including the guy who won the race thought the conditions were unlike anything we experienced before.”