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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Coulthard: Scotland's fastest man

Coulthard during this year's British Grand Prix
David Coulthard has been one of Formula One's most consistent performers of recent years - but never its luckiest.

The Scot's recent British Grand Prix win raised hopes of a championship challenge from the McLaren driver in 2000.

Coulthard won at Silverstone for the second year running, gaining a seventh Grand Prix win since he made his debut in 1994.

And while he appears lucky to have escaped serious injury in Tuesday's plane crash in France, the mishap is the latest setback in a career which has been marred by bad fortune.

Coulthard started driving in Formula One with Williams in difficult circumstances, replacing the the late Ayrton Senna after his death in the San Marino Grand Prix that year.
David Coulthard
Born: 27/3/71
F1 starts: 94
GP wins: 7
Pole positions: 8
World championships: 0

At the time the team were the leading outfit in the sport and Coulthard did not let them down, winning 14 points in his first eight races.

A second position in Portugal behind team-mate Damon Hill was the best result of the season, and the Scot's services were retained by Williams for 1995.

Portugal again provided him with his best result - a first victory - and he finished third in the world championship that year before leaving Williams.

In 1996 he joined current team McLaren where he finished second in the Monaco Grand Prix despite not having a strong car.

Like all F1 drivers Coulthard is a serious athlete

But from the first race of 1997 Coulthard gave notice that the Mercedes-powered cars were rapidly improving, and at that stage he seemed set to spearhead their championship charge in the following seasons.

The Scot won the season opener in Melbourne, Australia and repeated the victory in the Italian round at Monza.

But since then a combination of bad luck and the occasional mistake has seen Coulthard playing second fiddle to Mike Hakkinen.

A controversial team arrangement in Australia in 1998 saw the Scot pull over to hand victory to Hakkinen, and the Finn never looked back as he stormed to the championship.

Hakkinen's title win was repeated in 1999, with Coulthard suffering from mechanical problems and a marginal lack of pace compared to the Finn, particularly in qualifying.
Coulthard's career
1971: Born, Twynholm, Scotland.
1982-8: Karting career.
1989-91: Formula Ford and Formula Lotus before finishing second in British F3 Championship
1992-3: European F3000 Championship drives lead to 1994 test contract for Williams
1994: Quickly drafted into team following Ayrton Senna's death
1995: First GP win in Portugal, third in drivers championship
1996: Joins McLaren
1997-8: Successive third places in championship.
1999: First home winner of British GP in four years
2000: Disqualified after second in Brazilian GP, wins British round again, suffers minor injuries in plane crash.

Many people saw the 2000 season as make-or-break for Coulthard, and he warned other drivers, including his team-mate, that he would be "a bit less of a nice guy".

The Scot reorganised his schedule to concentrate more on driving and less on promotional work, a strategy which has initially paid off.

Although Hakkinen has still been the faster in qualifying the Scot has been the more consistent race finisher.

In Brazil he was only denied a second place after McLaren were disqualified for an illegal front wing.

But he put that behind him at Silverstone on Easter Monday, with an impressive drive to the chequered flag.

This performance saw off his own team-mate, championship leader Michael Schumacher and Coulthard's long-term rival Rubens Barrichello, who battled with him in Forumla Three almost a decade ago.

Winning at Silverstone set Coulthard up for a promising 2000 season

On that occasion - in 1991 - the Brazilian, now withn Ferrari, denied Coulthard the championship.

But at Silverstone there was no stopping the Scot as he pulled off a thrilling overtaking move and hung on for victory.

It left him still 20 points adrift of Schumacher, but also two points clear of Hakkinen as McLaren's current number one contender.

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See also:

30 Aug 99 | Formula 1
Coulthard wins at Spa
09 Mar 00 | Motorsport
McLaren team profile
23 Apr 00 | Motorsport
Silverstone glory for Coulthard
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