The Real DC: Meeting David Coulthard.
My day with the legendary Scottish racing driver.
It was an absolute privilege to get the chance to meet up with legendary ex-F1 driver David Coulthard at Red Bull’s Press Event in Belfast. Coulthard and Red Bull are in Belfast to take part in a special demonstration up and down Belfast’s City Hall tomorrow (Saturday, 3rd November.) night, and I was delighted to not only find out my application to be given media access for the event was successful, but I also got invited to the Media Press Conference today, held in the beautiful Grand Central Hotel.
Incidentally the press conference on what was exactly the 10th anniversary of Coulthard’s final race in Formula 1, that legendary Brazilian Grand Prix where now five-time champion Lewis Hamilton clamed his first world title from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, after a last corner pass on Toyota’s Timo Glock. Despite not managing to become a champion himself, Coulthard is still quite a successful driver, with 13 wins during his spells with Williams and McLaren, coming 2nd to Michael Schumacher in the 2001 championship, and of course giving Red Bull they’re very first podium at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006.
Coulthard expressed his delight to be back in Ireland, the first time with the team doing a demonstration run since 2010 and told of how he loves it here. He gave us present at the event some fantastic and brilliantly explained answers. When asked about the current V6 Hybrid era, he believed that there isn’t much difference in terms of the chassis but has respect for the many different modes of deployment at the driver’s disposal under the current formula.
DC adresses the media crews. (Sorry for the crap quality phone pictures, my hands were shaking at the best of times!)
“I don’t really believe there is much of a difference to our forefathers of Grand Prix racing, we just now use the technology that’s available to us.” Coulthard remarked. “If you put the great Juan Manuel Fangio in a non-aerodynamic car against Lewis Hamilton for example, I think we would have a very interesting race indeed.”
I got to also throw out my own question and didn’t hesitate to ask his opinion on the proposed regulations for Formula 1 in 2021, to get quite a fantastic answer. “Opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one!” He wasn’t scared to indulge the room in laughter time from time.
“You have different parties looking at things in different ways. You have the FIA looking to make the sport ever safer, placing in more run offs, fences and ways to keep the cars away from the fans, and then you have the corporate side of things, trying to make the sport more accessible and financially successful.”
“Even though my shot at a chance in F1 through the death of another driver, I never thought about the danger. Obviously, I got the seat at Williams in 1994 after the death of Ayrton Senna in Imola. When Senna died in May, three weeks later I was in testing the car and getting ready. Even with that and the few accidents I had, never once did I think I was in danger in a Grand Prix car.”
“I can only look at this from my racing driver point of view. As a racing driver of course, you always want and look for that increase and improvement in performance, and if these regulations can bring such good performance while keeping the racing exciting enough to keep people engaged, then of course. Speed is good!”
Chatting with TV crews.
He told us of how his favourite win came on home ground at Silverstone because his family was there, and racing meant family to him. He told us however that he doesn’t want to force his 9-year-old son into motor racing, but his son is asking to start karting anyway.
He also passed his views on the demonstration to take place in Belfast. “I don’t think people really realise the work that’s put into this by the team. Considering the work and people here, there is not really much difference in doing this compared to your ordinary testing.” He also believed these kinds of events are fundamental in encouraging the younger generation and appreciated that inspiring and getting families and the younger people involved is key to evolving F1 for the future.
After the event, I got the chance to personally speak with David. We shook hands and got a selfie, and just had a brief 10 second chat before he moved on to do interviews with the crews from ITV and BBC. I was instantly drawn towards David’s politeness and gratitude and was happy to find that is a very pleasant person to speak and chat with. For me, David is that even more special of a driver, due to the fact he was one of the “main men” so to speak when I followed the sport as a kid. I put him alongside the likes of Montoya, Hakkinen, the Schumacher brothers and so on as being the ultimate for me, because I have such fond memories of that period of Formula One and growing up with it, like so many.
Being my first media event, I was also very surprised to find out how well Red Bull ran this event, and how open and polite everybody was, such as Joanne, Julie and Colm, who each were fantastic lovely to talk to and more than happy to help with what they can.
I was made sure that I would remember my day thanks to the brilliant goodie bag gave to us by Red Bull, filled with brilliant gifts such as a minichamps model of Max Verstappen’s 2017 Australian Grand Prix RB13 and a serious USB key, to make sure I would never forget this awesome day.
Last time in Belfast, 2010.
Be sure to check out the event tomorrow if you are in or around Belfast, the event takes place around City Hall and is open to the public at 7:30pm with the event starting at 8pm. Coulthard will be screaming up and down the streets in the 2012 championship winning RB8, which of course means that screaming 2.4 litre Renault V8 will howl through the streets of Belfast. Coulthard will also be joined by world famous stunt biker Mattie Griffin (watch out for my interview with him also, in the coming few days.), teenage drifting sensation Conor Shanahan, and Irish motorbike racing legends Jeremy McWilliams and Ryan Farquhar, each also doing demonstrations throughout the night, and the best thing? It’s completely Free!
And if you can’t make the event itself, be sure to make a visit to City Hall between 12pm-5pm where you can get up close and personal with the Red Bull garage and the famous RB8. Either way, this is one event you cannot miss. See you there!