13-time grand prix winner David Coulthard recalled how he had told his manager Martin Brundle that he would rather retire than join Jaguar, until suddenly they were Red Bull.
Coulthard enjoyed a long and successful career in Formula 1 across stints with Williams, McLaren and finally Red Bull, becoming the first Red Bull-signed driver and racing with the team until his retirement from 2005-08.
Red Bull was formed following the purchase of the Jaguar team, a game-changing transformation when it came to Coulthard’s interest in joining the team.
David Coulthard favoured retirement over Jaguar drive
Speaking on the Formula For Success podcast, Coulthard recalled that Jaguar were among the teams he met with, alongside his contracts manager Brundle, once he knew he would leave McLaren at the end of 2004.
However, the Ford-owned team did not represent a “winning formula” to his mind in the way they operated, until Red Bull stepped forward to save the day.
“At the end, when I knew I was leaving McLaren, we spoke to all of the teams, Martin Brundle was my contractual manager, and one of the teams that we actually had a meeting with was Jaguar,” said Coulthard.
“And I recall specifically, and Jaguar became Red Bull if you recall, at the end of that 2004 season, Red Bull bought the team, but I recall saying to Martin, ‘I would rather retire or become a test driver somewhere with the hope of coming back to Formula 1, than race under the structure that was Jaguar’.
“With the greatest respect to the people of Jaguar at that time, the management structure and the way they had to report to Ford, and I think they had about four or five upgrades a year, it just didn’t strike me as being a winning formula.
“And then all of that changed, of course, when Red Bull bought Jaguar, rebranded it and that first year, 2005, it was essentially a Jaguar car painted Red Bull, because obviously everything happens so late, then you’re just taking over the legacy.
“But we then started a process of re-energising the great people that were there, changing some of the people that would be better suited going elsewhere. And then, ultimately, of course, Red Bull have built themselves into a phenomenal racing team. So I feel that I was part of that transition.”
Red Bull has since gone on to claim six Constructors’ Championship titles and seven Drivers’ crowns, a trophy cabinet looking set to expand further with the team having unleashed dominant performance on their rivals over the past two seasons.