David Coulthard reveals key F1 aspect that made him ‘uncomfortable’

Thomas Maher
The 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix race start

David Coulthard has said the era of fuel-saving and increasingly heavy cars, as seen in recent years, has made him 'uncomfortable'.

David Coulthard has said the rule changes that made F1 more akin to endurance racing left him cold.

The Scot raced in F1 in the mid to late 1990s, and through up until 2008 – always racing with naturally aspirated V10s and V8s and considerably lighter cars than the current iterations as minimum weights have climbed to just under 800 kilogrammes.

The bump in weight has come about due to the cars becoming larger overall, equipped with hybrid technology and a greater focus on safety – all of which have resulted in piling on the kilos.

David Coulthard: Seeing F1 become like endurance racing was ‘uncomfortable’

Appearing on the Formula for Success podcast, Coulthard was asked about the rule changes in recent times that he hasn’t been a fan of.

The Scottish broadcaster chose not to point fingers at any rulechanges from his own time as an F1 driver, but said he hadn’t been happy with the rules introduced in recent years that have seen the focus switch from all-out speed to more considered conservation of resources while driving.

“What I have not particularly enjoyed seeing over the past years is not that Formula 1 still remains the most remarkable proving ground of technology,” he said.

“It is – these cars are engineered works of art and they’re just unbelievable to look at.

“But I’m slightly uncomfortable that they’re almost as heavy as a sports car. I didn’t really enjoy the period, which I think is passing though, where there was quite a bit of lifting and coasting, saving fuel because we had the 100 kilogrammes – or it’s become a bit more than that on fuel restriction (now maximum 110kg – editor).

“We had fuel flow metres and things like that. All of these rule changes brought it closer to endurance-type racing, rather than what I think the Grand Prix is.

“The Grand Prix is up to a maximum of 305 kilometres. Typically, the longest race would be around a couple of hours.

“Most of them are about 90 minutes. It’s sprint racing. I think it’s the fastest cars being driven to the limit. I got uncomfortable when it felt like they were pacing themselves, saving fuel, saving tyres, and getting ready to then deploy their talents strategically to win the race.

“The goal, of course, is always the same and you always count the winner at the chequered flag, but that’s what I didn’t particularly enjoy.”

With F1 making moves to reduce the weight and make the cars a little smaller and more nimble from 2026, Coulthard believes the upcoming plans are a step in the right direction.

“I feel the sport is definitely targeting louder cars because the noise is the soundtrack,” he said.

“Volume is [important] when you’re conveying passion to people.

“The cars are now, as we saw in places like Qatar where they were restricted on laps on the tyres, those drivers were like gladiators.

“They were getting out of the car dripping in sweat and looking like they’d been at battle and I just thought that was fantastic to see.”


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Eddie Jordan: I’m absolutely against the weight

Responding to Coulthard’s complaints, fellow podcast host Eddie Jordan offered his thoughts on the rulechanges he doesn’t agree with – saying he’s not particularly a fan of how pitstop strategies dictate the on-track action.

“The thing that irritates me a bit is the pit stops – this undercutting, overcutting thing,” he said.

“Yeah, I understand it but… people trying to pass people in the pits. Is that really what we want to be seeing?

“I want to see drivers pass on the track, I want to see people dicing up the inside and, when they think they can follow somebody and go into the pits one lap earlier and get out on the new tyres and go quickly… fine, that’s strategy and the team loves that.

“But it’s not really what the punters want to see. They want to see passing manoeuvres and they don’t want to see it in the pits. So I’m against that and absolutely against the weight.

“I think our car (1991 Jordan) started off at over 570 [kilogrammes] or something and that was with the driver. They were tiny and it must be at least 50 percent higher now.”

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