David Coulthard has admitted that he’s not sure he ever loved being an F1 racing driver, despite spending over 10 years in the sport.
The Scottish driver became one of Formula 1’s rising stars in the mid-90s, landing his first opportunity to race following the tragic death of Ayrton Senna before securing a full-time seat with Williams in 1995.
Coulthard would race until the end of 2008, putting in a lengthy stint with McLaren between 1996 and 2004 and being the first lead driver at Red Bull for the final years of his career.
David Coulthard’s startling admission about racing career
With Coulthard carving out a hugely successful career as a broadcaster and pundit, as well as turning his attentions to various enterprises and initiatives – Coulthard being one of the figureheads behind ‘More than Equal’, seeking to help find the first female F1 World Champion – the 13-time Grand Prix winner has said that, on reflection, he’s not sure he ever loved being a racer.
“I mean, I love life, but I’m not sure I ever loved being a racing car driver,” Coulthard told the UK’s Telegraph in an extensive interview.
“Because it always seemed that life was about more than that.
“I was lucky to grow up in a loving family and we went racing together, but the rest of my week would be normal life, so I’ve always known that you don’t need to be a grand prix driver, living in Monaco and travelling the world to be happy. Happiness is a self-declared thing.”
Pulling the plug on his racing career at the conclusion of 2008, Coulthard had appeared to be in the form of his life just 12 months prior – the fall-off in his performance coming remarkably quickly in what proved to be a very disappointing final season.
The Scottish driver said he could feel the change in his mentality even before the very first race of the season had happened.
“I woke up for pre-season testing on what turned out to be my last year,” he explained.
“When I drove the car (Red Bull’s 2008 RB4), I just didn’t feel it.
“In racing, that brand new car at the start of a season carries all your hopes and desires.
“Unlike other sports where if you’re, say, Novak Djokovic, you tend to have form throughout your entire career, but drivers need that car or they can’t perform.
“So Lewis Hamilton wins races when he has a good car but doesn’t when he has an average one. And on that particular day, I knew that mine was not a winning car – and I lost the energy. I lost the fight.
“It’s like with relationships. You never imagine not being in a relationship, until the moment you think: ‘I don’t want to be in this anymore.’ And instead of feeling depressed, I actually felt liberated.”