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Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Sunday, 2 November 2008

Coulthard says farewell to F1

By Colin Moffat

David Coulthard has retired from F1
Coulthard has enjoyed a long and distinguished F1 career

David Coulthard recalls the day he flicked Michael Schumacher the finger with great satisfaction, although he is not proud of the angry gesture.

The incident took place as the Scot battled his way to victory in the French Grand Prix in 2000.

That victory, one of 13 race triumphs, is one of the driver's personal highlights in a 15-year Formula One career that came to a close in Brazil on Sunday.

Coulthard only got as far as the first corner in his final race when he spun off the rain-hit Interlagos circuit after being nudged at the start by Nico Rosberg.

But the 37-year-old has no regrets - and will head into retirement as a man satisfied with what he achieved.

"I wanted to take the chequered flag, but I can't complain after a good career," said Coulthard.

He added: "I'm obviously disappointed I didn't complete a lap of the Grand Prix. What an exciting end to the world championship and what a great day for motorsport.

"I will be back next year in a different capacity. My journey and my love of with motorsport will continue, it just won't be behind the wheel."

The presence of a dominant Schumacher probably denied Coulthard a world championship title.

His best season finish was second behind the German in 2001, while he claimed third in the standings on four occasions.

"I know opinion is divided as to whether I was any good or not," he told BBC Sport prior to his last race in Sao Paulo.

"If I'd won a championship, that would take away any real discussion.

"But I finished second and who really remembers the runner-up in the World Cup or in the Olympic 100m final?

"Ultimately, it's all about winning. But I don't feel unfulfilled in finishing second to someone who turned out to be the most successful driver in the history of the sport.

"It was just bad timing for me to be around at the time of a seven-time world champion."

It's an understandably sanguine philosophy from a man who, in May 2000, narrowly survived a private plane crash in which both pilots were killed.

The last of Coulthard's wins came in Australia in 2003, with the Scot, now 37, coping best with changeable weather, despite starting 11th on the grid.

He was also a back-to-back winner in front of his home crowd at Silverstone in 1999 and 2000.

However, those fantastic achievements do not rank highest in the memories of a driver who does not like to dwell on his past.

"I'm not really someone who reminisces a great deal," he said.

"I certainly don't talk about the good old days because I think I'm living them now.

"I've been asked a lot of questions about highlights and the beginning of my career in 1994, but it seems so long ago that I don't really remember the details.

"I've just been enjoying the journey."

The F1 adventure began when he moved up from testing to be a front-line driver for Williams after Ayrton Senna's death.

He won his first F1 race in Portugal in 1995 before going on to win a further 12 during a nine-year spell with McLaren.

The Scot has been with Red Bull for the last four seasons and has agreed to stay on and help develop the team's young driver programme.

David Coulthard has retired from F1
Coulthard managed a third place in Canada this season

When pressed for his highlights, Coulthard said: "A couple of races stand out.

"Those who follow F1 closely may remember I gave Schumacher the finger at Magny-Cour in 2000.

"I'm not proud of it because it's not big and it's not clever.

"But it was a race full of frustration.

"Michael tried to shove me off the circuit at the start of the race and I dropped to third and had to battle back to get in behind him and eventually pass him.

"I was particularly pleased that I was able to control my emotions.

"Winning in Monaco for second time (in 2002) was also very special.

"I led from the front on a circuit where there is just no room for error.

"It's almost a two-hour race, it's hot and physically demanding.

"If anyone was to say I wasn't any good as a driver, I would always put forward Monaco as an example of being able to win on one of the most difficult circuits."

Having amassed the fifth-highest points tally in the history of F1, it's unlikely that Coulthard will have to argue his case very often.

David Coulthard was talking to BBC Radio Scotland's Sports Weekly

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see also
Last-gasp Hamilton takes F1 crown
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Ecstatic Hamilton revels in glory
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Reaction to Hamilton's F1 title
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton destined for greatness
02 Nov 08 |  Formula One
Rollercoaster race to the F1 crown
02 Nov 08 |  Motorsport
Hamilton's rise to the top
18 Jun 07 |  Motorsport
Stewart praise as Coulthard exits
31 Oct 08 |  Formula One
David Coulthard
03 Jul 08 |  Drivers

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