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  Saturday, 14 July, 2001, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Coulthard: The private man
David Coulthard in action during Friday's practice session at Silverstone
Coulthard looking for more success at Silverstone
David Coulthard talks exclusively to BBC Sport Online's Andrew Benson in the final instalment of a two-part interview from Silverstone.

David Coulthard has always had an ambivalent relationship with the public.

Despite being Britain's top Grand Prix driver for five years now, he is only just beginning to be appreciated as such in the general consciousness.

Perhaps it's because he is Scottish, and the media English-dominated.

Or perhaps it is because he has spent the last few years in the shadow of his McLaren team-mate Mika Hakkinen and Ferrari star Michael Schumacher.

Either way, he has never drawn the sort of adulation that used to be lavished on his predecessors, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill - and he doesn't really care.


It's a Grand Prix with 10 points for a win like any other.
David Coulthard

It is no surprise, then, that Coulthard says he feels no special emotion about Silverstone this weekend - even if, should he win, he would become only the second driver in history to win three British Grands Prix in a row.

"I don't need that support for motivation," Coulthard says. "It's a Grand Prix with 10 points for a win like any other.

"I want to win it because to do so would help me in the championship.

"Seeing flags around the circuit, might make me feel good but it won't make me go any faster."

These are not, as he acknowledges, the sort of remarks that will set the public's patriotism ablaze.

But then Coulthard has always been a matter-of-fact sort of man, with a nice line in dry, self-deprecating humour.

He uses this to illustrate an example of his double-edged relationship with the British public, which he experienced at a historic racing car event at Goodwood last weekend.

David Coulthard mixes with his fans
Coulthard's popularity is on the rise

"There were a couple of people shouting: 'Go on DC, go and kick some arse next weekend.'

And there were a couple of others saying: 'Go on DC, go and get your arse kicked again next weekend.'"

There are not many international sports stars who would tell such a story against themselves - and find it funny.

But Coulthard has always been an unusually well-grounded racing driver, with his sense of his own importance fully under control.

He was never particularly bothered about the fact that he did not get much coverage in the press.

He was much more concerned about doing his job, and was quite happy to be left relatively alone.

This year, though, he has become something of a star in the newspapers, if not always for the reasons he would have wanted.

An unfortunate corollary of his rise to prominence on the track has been the interest of the tabloid press in his activities off it.

The newspapers latched on to his split from fiancee Heidi Wichlinski before the start of the season, and have wallowed since in a series of stories about his supposed antics with a series of beautiful women ever since.

Coulthard says: "It was all - as these things always tend to be - out of date and inaccurate.

David Coulthard in determined mood ahead of the British GP
Coulthard remains focused ahead of the British GP

"It was frustrating and embarrassing for all parties for it to be suggested that a night of romping around in a hotel was the downfall of a four-year relationship.

"The fact of the matter is that Heidi and I agreed to separate in January having discussed it before the New Year. We spent New Year together and we sat down and said: 'Look, this isn't working.'

"It wasn't as if we had a big argument, but it was just like: 'It's not quite right. I don't want to get married now.' And it sort of all went down from there.

"You either go public, which I don't want to do, or you just ride it out.

Some will think, 'Oh, it must be true,' and others close to you know it's not.

"Either way it's embarrassing, but what can you do? That's the price of fame, I guess."

And fame off the track, now that he has established himself on it as a genuine world title contender, is something he will doubtless have to get used to.

In the first instalment of his exclusive interview with BBC Sport Online, Coulthard talks about the ups and downs of life with McLaren in 2001.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
McLaren's David Coulthard
"Clearly the goal at Silverstone is to try to win"

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See also:

13 Jul 01 | Formula One
10 Jul 01 | Formula One
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