2023 Red Bull Showrun Mumbai: One-on-one With David Coulthard
Behind The Paddock With David Coulthard

After an eight-year hiatus, Red Bull Showrun returned to India with 12 Grand Prix winner, David Coulthard. We sat down with him for a chat.

Earlier this month, there was an unusual celebrity sighting on Bandra’s Band Stand. Younger fans might’ve recognised him as David Coulthard, the quick-witted presenter on the grid. Older fans though, remember him as one of the most prolific British drivers of all time and the man, who replaced Aryton Senna after his fatal crash in ‘94 and finished as a runner-up behind Michael Schumacher in the ‘01 season. The 51-year-old’s legacy speaks for itself, with 13 wins, 12 pole positions, 18 fastest laps and 62 podium finishes.


Coulthard’s career highlights span from securing Red Bull’s first-ever podium in Formula One to getting into a spat with Michael Schumacher in 1998. In fact, the Scotsman, who made way for a young Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull back in 2009, had also gone on to winning four world championships. Astride Vettel’s 2011 championship-winning car for the Red Bull showrun in Mumbai, we caught up with the legend to understand his views on Indian Motorsports, Netflix’s hit show, Drive To Survive — that has played a pivotal role in raking popular interest in racing — and the next gen of F1 cars.





India had a brief tryst with F1. Do you think the country needs to host a race and why?


I think to host a world championship, you need to be represented in all the major economies across the world. India certainly has one of the biggest populations, with creative minds and a lot of brain power. The country exports a lot of talent and technology across the globe, which is great to see. I think Formula One should be back in India and it will be back again at some point in the future.



You’ve had an illustrious career as an F1 racer. How then, has the paddock-life been treating you?


Being a commentator, I don’t have to be in bed too early. Physically, it’s a lot tougher, being a driver. You still feel a little bit of pressure because, when you’re live and you’re doing grid interviews for 8 to 9 minutes on the show, you have to make sure that you don’t mess it up on live television.


There’s been quite a shuffle among the drivers ahead of the 2023 season and there are a few new faces, too. Any kind of expectations going into the new season?


F1 is lucky to witness the current crop of racers, who are so competitive with each other. You have legends like Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at the other end of their career and on one side there is this great group of youngsters, like current world champion Max Verstappen, who burst into the scene at 17 and has won back-to-back world championships; he, in my mind, is already a legend of the sport. To add to that, we have Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and Carlos Sainz, who are also consistently performing for their respective teams.



What sort of an impact do you think Drive to Survive had on the sport and its popularity?


I think Drive to Survive has excited such a change in the younger generation and a lot of young girls have been connecting with Formula 1, in a way, through the personalities of the drivers, and the way they interact with the team principals. That was something that in F1 that we never got a chance to show as the focus was always on the race. This has given viewers the opportunity to get access behind the scenes and a lot of other sports now are trying to replicate that.



What do you think about the new generation of F1 cars?


I got a chance to drive the V6 Turbo Hybrid and what is different from this new generation car compared to the previous one is the torque. The initial reaction of anyone who has an electric car will be to get super excited, because when you push the power, something happens straightaway. The internal combustion engine, the RPM and the torque increases; it’s a different feeling and that’s where the electrification helps — it accelerates the mass early. Once you get used to that, the actual car is just another Grand Prix car.


The modern grand prix car is generating downforce from the underside. They are bigger because of the battery storage, and they have bigger tyres. They weigh almost 800 kilos. Now, weight loses your performance, but they win it back through a bigger contact patch, and more downforce, which makes the car more lap-time compatible.

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