F1 Interview: Formula 1 commentator David Coulthard on Lewis Hamilton and McLaren

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David Coulthard, MBE, or DC as he is known to those in his inner circle, finished second to Michael Schumacher in 2001 when the former drove for McLaren. Known for his gutsy driving and entertaining approach to interviews, DC, when he isn’t on TV, can be seen on the podium – where he was fairly often during his driving career — only this time having conversations with drivers. We caught up with the man himself during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain as he watched the race with his family.

DC lovely to see you how are you?

DC: I’m walking with a limp actually! I went karting this week (referring to the week of the Bahrain GP) with my son and he (I heard about that! I heard about your comments on his driving) (both laugh) so I pulled a muscle. A good reminder that at 46, I shouldn’t be doing things like that, says with a hearty laugh. It’s good fun to take him out on the track and my wife and he are enjoying the sun here in Bahrain. And between us having a little bit of F1 background noise which is great

What are your predictions for 2017 and the season?

DC: Well I’m enthused by the fact Ferrari are right in the mix; there’s no question that they’re pushing Mercedes hard. I expected Red Bull to be a bit closer given the big regulation change that would normally play to the strengths of creative genes that they have there. But let’s see how they develop throughout the course of the year, but I definitely think that this is going to be an interesting step by step battle of development because Ferrari are essentially one upgrade away from being a match for Mercedes. Likewise, if Mercedes come with a next big step then they can secure the position there so it’s going to be interesting to watch how that development battle goes on.

Still, think Lewis Hamilton is going to quit mid-season?

DC: (laughs) I’m mostly sure about that but it’s great to see the way the battles go there. You know Formula 1, we were falling into a period of predictability in the last couple of years of course with Mercedes dominance. As great as that is, as a technical showcase of Mercedes and what they have done, they equally understand that the whole basis of fans following Formula 1 is the potential to see some really good competition. Ferrari needs to be part of that mix.

You are a Heineken ambassador, along with Sir Jackie Stewart. What’s one of your favourite highlights of being a Heineken ambassador?

DC: Well, I was a fan of the brand before, which makes it very easy to engage in the product. But they’re such a great company that it just makes it a pleasure to work with. They are successful in their own right and have chosen to partner with the Champion’s League for several years. However they’ve also realised that Formula 1 taps into another slightly wider audience in some areas and that’s great for the sport of Formula 1, that’s great for people like myself or yourself who’ve engaged in the sport — essentially fans of the sport — and long may that continue.

What are your thoughts on Fernando Alonso skipping out on Monaco to join the Indy500?

DC: Well it’s a bit of a good news story I guess in terms of how it is something different and not something people expected. At the end of the day though it’s born out of the difficulties that McLaren have right now. If they were competitive we’d never be on the cards. But they’re not. Therefore, it does throw up an opportunity — a good news story in that respect and I’m sure Zac Brown is using it also as an opportunity to engage with American partners who, previously, maybe wouldn’t have looked at Formula 1 and they may see that Fernando comes with the whole global media audience that wouldn’t be there otherwise. So there’s a lot of good business reasons to do it, sporting reasons to do it, brings Jensen back into play, gives him one sort of final opportunity to check whether he’s missing Formula 1. In the end, people are talking about it so that’s good for the sport generally.

You’ve got a lot of fans, what’s the craziest thing a fan as ever done for you?

DC: Ask me to sign her knickers probably was the rather craziest thing! (Laughs)

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