Well, no sooner had we said “we’ll believe it when we see it” than we saw it – David Coulthard has announced he is to retire from F1 at the end of this season.
In a statement released this afternoon he said: “My decision to retire was taken earlier in the year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive and enjoying the immense challenge that Grand Prix driving represents. I also have the desire to look for new challenges within the sport.”
The former McLaren driver and multiple race-winner is to remain with his current team, Red Bull Racing, as a consultant offering advice on design and testing of their race cars.
He left open the possibility of racing in other series – but after 14 years, more than 230 races and 13 wins (so far), his F1 career will end at the AutÃ³dromo JosÃ© Carlos Pace, SÃ£o Paulo, with the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 2nd.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, who was once forced to jump near-naked into a swimming pool after rashly betting against a DC podium, said: “Working with David has been an absolute pleasure.”
He praised the Scot’s contribution to the development of the team: “He scored our first point, our first podium and was the first of our drivers to lead a grand prix. He has demonstrated that he is a real team player, a fact reinforced by the statistic that he has only driven for two other F1 teams in his career.
“Red Bull Racing will still be utilising his services and he will on occasion drive the car in test sessions for us so that we can draw upon his vast experience and knowledge. He will be involved as a consultant to the team and to the technical group as we look to extract the maximum from his considerable experience of Formula One. I don’t think he will be struggling to fill his time.”
Here is DC’s statement in full:
I would like to announce today my decision to retire from racing in Formula One at the end of this season. I will remain actively involved in the sport as a consultant to Red Bull Racing focusing on testing and development of the cars.
I have an open mind as to whether or not I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motorsport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet!
My decision to retire was taken earlier in the year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive and enjoying the immense challenge that Grand Prix driving represents. I also have the desire to look for new challenges within the sport.
The decision to make this announcement at the British GP should be an obvious one for all to understand, as I have achieved two of my thirteen F1 victories at Silverstone and I am a member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which hosts this event.
I am proud of my work at Red Bull Racing and will continue to race with the same focus until the last lap in Brazil. Thereafter I will continue to help the team develop and move towards their ultimate goal of winning races.
There are many people who have played a part in my career and I would like to list a few of them below;
- My parents whose energy and encouragement through my entire career has been amazing
- Dave Boyce who guided me through Karting
- David Leslie Senior and Junior for teaching me how to set up and race a car
- Sir Jackie and Paul Stewart for putting me through their “staircase of talent”
- Sir Frank Williams and Williams Renault for having the faith to promote me from test driver to race driver, which lead to my first GP victory
- Ron Dennis and the McLaren team where I spent nine seasons and achieved the majority of my success.
- Norbert Haug and Mercedes for being racers through and through
- Dietrich Mateschitz and his Red Bull Racing team for providing me with the chance to contribute to the development of a new team, while continuing to compete and add to my tally of podiums
- Christian Horner for his open and professional management style in association with Helmut Marko
- Bernie Ecclestone for providing such a strong platform for us all to develop our skills and be able to call ourselves professionals. In years to come, my future family will still be thanking him for the financial success of F1
- My management team of Martin Brundle and David Cawthorne in association with Annette Hutchinson and Iain Cunningham for providing their valued opinions
- There have been three teams but only one designer, so Adrian Newey deserves special thanks for all the champagne that I have sprayed
- And last but not least, all the media, officials, marshals, medical support, mechanics, engineers, sponsors, lawyers, accountants and back room staff that I have worked with during this period.