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Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 12:12 UK
David Coulthard on life after F1
Formula One veteran David Coulthard has announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the sport. He spoke to Newsbeat's David Garrido about his post-racing plans, how F1 has changed over the years and his favourite thing about Silverstone.

David Coulthard

When did you make the decision to retire?

It's been something that's been in my mind over the last few months, realising the direction the sport was going. There are big regulation changes for next year so it's really a new era of F1 which is going to take a serious commitment of time and energy.

It's not something you can commit to just for another season. I'm half-way through my 15th season in F1, I'm 37 years old, you have to be realistic about how long you can sustain the level of energy and commitment that's necessary to compete in F1. I would rather acknowledge that I've had a fair crack of the whip. I've had a winning car, I've won many Grands Prix, scored a lot of points.

And I'm satisfied with what I've been able to achieve at Red Bull which is to take them from a back-of-the-grid team, to help them structure and grow to the point where we're now lying fourth in the Constructors' Championship. I'll still be in the background as a consultant to the team.

What's been the biggest change to F1 in the last 15 years?

I think the media spotlight on F1 - it's always been a very popular sport of course - but the level of global interest in the sport now is phenomenal. If you look at the interest from countries that haven't had a history of having Grands Prix - Bahrain, Valencia, Singapore, some amazing and exciting places we've had the chance to go to. It just shows how successful the business of F1 works and that's because there's a sporting interest from the fans.

Is there any danger of losing the element of tradition if new circuits are added all the time?

Silverstone, Spa, Monza, Monaco, these are the backbone of the history of the sport. If you progressively blend in to going from a European-based championship to maybe a Middle Eastern or Far Eastern championship, it's something that would cross over a generation. But it has to be a very slow process, otherwise you lose your fanbase. F1 is a European-based championship. The teams are all based in Europe - of course we go to Australia, all over Asia, South America, North America. We really cover the globe… but it has to remain true to its roots.

How special is Silverstone for you?

Lewis Hamilton, David coulthard and Jenson Button
David coulthard with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button

It's a great Grand Prix weekend. It's a great weekend sporting spectacle. You have the fans camping out. This period of the year for sport in Britain is fantastic with Wimbledon, with the Grand Prix.

We have a sell-out crowd here because they're expecting Lewis to maybe have a British winner. British fans are very fair in their support of every nationality of driver and team. They're very able as a nation to wear a Ferrari hat or whatever it happens to be, so there is elegance to the F1 British Grand Prix crowd.

Do you do anything differently compared to when you were a rookie?

I have a better structure to my weekend. Knowing what I can do and what I can't do. As you grow older you get much more organised ahead of time. You structure it that you give a little bit to the team, the sponsors and fans and make sure you've got some left over for yourself.

What is the key to winning at Silverstone?

It's a very challenging high-speed circuit and the big challenge really is the wind. Being an airfield it's very open and the wind effect on a Grand Prix car is really no different to the wind effect on an aircraft. Having a car which is set up to handle that is one of the key things.

Which part of the circuit is the biggest thrill?

The first section of the track. That whole first 30 seconds of the Grand Prix track you never go below 230mph, so it's one of the fastest sections of any racing track we race on.

What will your consultant role at Red Bull entail?

Red Bull
Inside Red Bull's laid-back Formula One HQ

My consultancy role will involve driving the car occasionally for the development side. I know the demands on the race driver's time, it's not always possible for them to get back for a test.

Any business is about making decisions. When you've got that level of experience, you have an opinion. And I'll add my opinion to those of the engineers and designers. As a race driver you just don't have the time and energy to spend at the factory that I will have as a retired racing driver.

Will it be hard to wean yourself off the drama?

Of course it will be. I'd rather be in the situation where I have taken a decision and know I'm doing a countdown to Brazil, really enjoying it and really missing the thought of not racing than wishing I didn't have to race this weekend. I've had a very long career and I've got no complaints about that.

Any sportsman's career will not last a lifetime. I'll leave the sport as a driver feeling fulfilled in the opportunities I had.

Ever tempted to do something completely different?

I haven't really thought too much about it. Off the cuff, maybe join the ladies synchronised swimming team or something. My passion has been motor sport and racing and competing and I'm not someone who has a mad passion for something away from my chosen sport. Other than a passion for enjoying my life. And that means being with my family, my friends, having fun and just really soaking up the opportunity we have in this life.

I had a great, but tragic reminder in 2000, where I was involved in a plane crash, where sadly the pilots were killed, that I could have been killed that day as well. And then we wouldn't be having this conversation and I would've missed out on the last eight years of wonderful life that I've had. My passion is definitely for life.


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