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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 08:33 GMT
David Coulthard Q&A
David Coulthard starts his 12th season in Formula One in Bahrain this weekend with his Red Bull team hopeful they will soon become a major force in the sport.

The 34-year-old Scot took time out from his preparations to answer your questions.

Is the podium a realistic goal for this year?
Norbert's Pie Factory - aka Fat Boy Sim

"No-one would have expected Ferrari's fall from dominance in the way they did last year. But it's an indication of just how difficult it is to predict form.

David Coulthard in the Red Bull during pre-season testing
Coulthard is optimistic about Red Bull's chances of progress
"I don't know how competitive we're going to be this year because we haven't been to a Grand Prix where the gloves are off and everyone has to perform. Reality will deliver us the results.

"I don't have a great deal of time for all these predictions because in a short time we'll find out. But it's logical to presume with all the investment over a period of time that the team will move forward from seventh in the constructors' championship to being higher up in the future. How long that will take, I don't know."

Do you feel you can race on in F1 when your Red Bull contract expires at the end of the year?

"Yeah - my motivation is to be in an Adrian Newey-influenced Red Bull in 2007 [Newey, the former McLaren technical director, joined Red Bull in January].

I could have quite a few more wins between what I gave to Mika Hakkinen and what I gave to Damon Hill
David Coulthard
"Am I worried about other drivers being more interested in the team now Adrian is designing the car? No. There's no point me worrying about things I can't control. I can't control the desires of other drivers. I can control my desires and motivation and trying to get on with my job.

"My whole career there's always been someone wanting to be in the seat I was in, probably more so at McLaren I have to say than now, but that may change if things progress the way we'd like them to. But that's part of the business."

Do you think there is realistically another chance of you winning a Grand Prix or more before you retire? And are you satisfied with your achievements in F1?

"The motivation has been the same since before I started in F1. You take a realistic view at the start of the year about how likely any of those things are to come true. But it doesn't change the desire.

David Coulthard stands next to his stricken McLaren in Bahrain in 2004
Coulthard says his motivation does not waver even in bad times
"I always give the example of 2004 when Kimi [Raikkonen] and I were uncompetitive at the beginning of the year. You know, we were lapped. But he didn't chuck his helmet off and head off to Finland and give up because he had to get on with the work. And same thing for me. We just get on with it and hopefully things will progress.

"Am I satisfied with my achievements? Well, tough if I'm not, because there's not much I can do about the past. But I'm working on trying to do the best job I can in the future."

Do you have any regrets about handing Mika Hakkinen those race wins in 1997 and 1998?
Birmingham 2-0 Sunderland

"Yeah, of course. I wouldn't still be stuck on 13, which is an ugly number. I could have quite a few more between what I gave to Mika and what I gave to Damon [Hill].

We've gone from a car that is fairly balanced, and possibly has a bit more power than the grip can handle, to one that's got more grip than power
Coulthard on the 2006 rules
"But it is what it is. You make your decisions at the time armed with the information or instruction you're given. If people knew what Hitler was going to do, they'd never have allowed him to go on his march. You know, who wants to have a degree in hindsight?"

What do you think of the new rules? Do you feel slowing down the cars is taking away what makes F1 so special? And do you like the new V8 engines?

"You've effectively gone from a car that is fairly balanced, and possibly has a bit more power than the grip can handle, to one that's got more grip than power.

"So if people talk about F1 being F3-ish that's because it's kind of scenario you have in F3. You don't really see power slides in F3 and you certainly won't see them in V8 F1.

"I liked the V10 formula. There was a nice balance between power and grip. But what does it matter really what I think? It's what we have.

Mika Hakkinen (right) raises David Coulthard's arm on the rostrum after the 1998 Australian Grand Prix, during which Coulthard was told to move over and hand victory to the Finn
Coulthard regrets handing several wins to McLaren team-mate Hakkinen
"I first started testing F1 cars when they had active suspension, with 3.5-litre engines and wide slicks.

"They've always been called F1, but it's been vastly different over the years I've been involved, through to narrow track, grooved tyres and now V8 engines. It's the most changed formula probably in any form of motorsport in the last decade."

What is your favourite part of being an F1 driver?

"The races. And the technical aspect - working with engineers and designers and seeing how they can take an idea and make it a reality."

If you were in charge of F1, what would you change?

"I don't presume to have enough knowledge of everything that's involved. It's not all about making the cars go slower or quicker. There are so many aspects to being in charge of F1 that just to give one thing is a bit... Well, you can't do it."

Can you explain why you have gone from appearing to be cold at McLaren to likeable at Red Bull?

"It's Red Bull. It gives you wings."

Do you honestly believe Jenson Button has a realistic chance of winning the world championship?
Red apple

Jenson Button and David Coulthard
Coulthard rates his good friend Button as "the real deal"
"I think Jenson is the real deal. It just takes the right environment, the right time and don't doubt he has all the talents to win Grands Prix and challenge for championships. He's fired up. He looks fit. The Honda seems quick. So I wouldn't be surprised if he's challenging for wins this year."

When drivers bad-mouth each other in the press, what happens when you see each other?

"We're all fine. You say your piece and then you get on with it."

What is the most memorable moment of your career?

"Wins, of course. They are pretty memorable. My favourite? Maybe Magny-Cours 2000, when I had to battle with Michael [Schumacher] and gave him the finger. I just remember being pretty pissed off that day - and then very happy at the end."

Full interview: David Coulthard


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