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Pundit David Coulthard answers your Formula 1 questions

The BBC Formula 1 team will be answering your questions in a new series for the website this year.

In the latest edition, pundit David Coulthard is on the spot. Thank you for all your e-mails, a selection of which the former driver answers below.

BBC F1 pundit David Coulthard
By David Coulthard
BBC Sport in Monaco

Surely the fears about excessive traffic in Monaco qualifying are over-stated? In the first session, the top teams probably only need one competitive lap and the slow cars won't progress to the second session anyway.
Chris, Netherlands

In Monaco there is always an increased risk of having your lap ruined by traffic; everybody knows that because it's always been the case.

It's more difficult for the cars to drive off-line here to allow other cars to pass. For instance, there is only one racing line to take through the tunnel so there is only one choice for the driver.

It's unlikely Red Bull will have such a big advantage around Monaco

This circuit does not meet the FIA's standard width or required run-off areas but it's a unique challenge and absolutely should be on the calendar because you get to see the drivers doing something special here.

All the cars will be out on track at the beginning of Q1 and the teams that are unlikely to make it through to Q2 will go on as many runs as they possibly can, whereas the big teams will usually go out and do just one run.

So, no, the fears aren't over-stated as the volumes of cars on track will be much greater here.

Was Jenson Button right to complain about Michael Schumacher's defensive driving in Spain?
Jason Cronshaw, UK

I always defer to at least hearing the driver's point of view. Jenson was in the car so he must know something more than we do.

Button frustrated by mechanical problems

If he wants to give his point of view that Schumacher was aggressive then that's well within his rights.

Button's the only person who knows what it's like to be in the car. I didn't see anything that I thought was overly-aggressive but that's my point of view.

Why are the Red Bulls so fast?
innie, England

Simply because they have exploited the current regulations more efficiently than others, just as Ferrari did for many years and Brawn did in 2009.

I feel proud that Red Bull are such a successful team now because the four years I spent there was largely the painful part of helping to build, restructure and find out how the jigsaw fits together as a team.

The jigsaw in motorsport is the people. The technology doesn't invent itself, the idea, the thought comes from the human brain. To get all those people aligned to come up with an efficient design, and one that is better than the rest, is a skill.

As for this weekend, it's unlikely that Red Bull will have such a big advantage around Monaco as there are less aerodynamically-challenging corners here.

What do you think about Paul Di Resta's future in Formula 1?
Ferris Shaw UK

Paul has a bright future in Formula 1. He has an excellent opportunity with Force India, who are a team on the up.

He's getting a unique chance to learn the tracks on a Friday - although not in Monaco - and he'll get his chance in F1.

Getting the chance is the big hurdle and staying there is an even bigger challenging and that's the next phase of the 24-year-old's career.

He's a nice lad and I have the feeling he'll remain fairly normal and grounded when he does get to F1.

F1 has always been about technical innovation. However, the ban of the F-duct seems to suggest that innovation is now a bad thing. If similar logic had been applied in the past cars would still look like they did in the 1960s. Do you think banning the F-duct was the right thing to do?
Gary Slegg, UK

Were past decisions to ban ground effect and ban active ride the right thing to do?

It's a bit rich of anyone to come with one aerodynamic device which stalls the front wing and then be up in arms saying that a subsequent ban is suppressing technical innovation.

The nature of motorsport means that it needs to be regulated, it needs to be controlled, otherwise if you left it to the designers' imaginations the cars would be rocket ships not racing cars.

McLaren's 'f duct' explained

McLaren's 'F-duct' explained

The FIA is there to regulate the formula and control the speeds - anything that anyone thinks up has to be the right thing in the interests of the sport.

The teams who invent these innovations gain the advantage over the first few races that they have it. Then they ban them - just like the F-duct and double diffuser - and the advantage is negated but the important thing is that the rewards were reaped in the first place.

Which driver do you think has taken over from you as the ladies' man of F1?
Christina, Scotland

First of all, I don't think I was. I had a few different girlfriends over a 15-year period but I don't think that makes me remarkable.

I don't think I was a ladies' man so I don't think there's anyone to take over from me. Let's be honest, all Formula 1 drivers all attract a lot of admirers.

You appeared to have a good relationship with most of your team-mates but is there another dimension of interest in F1 when we have two team-mates who appear to hate one another such as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet or more recently Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso?
Mike Bryant

Having a baddie in the F1 paddock is always good for the script and keeping people entertained.

We had it with Prost and Senna, Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill and then with Michael and Jacques Villeneuve. Throughout the history of the sport, the classic years that people remember are those where we had good v bad on the track.

We don't have any baddies on the grid now - they're all goodies. But a Superman always needs a nemesis.

What would you say was your greatest race ever while you were a Formula 1 driver?
Jonathan Balsdon, United Kingdom

My second win in Monaco was one of my best races. I had a very good run here at one point, winning in 2000 and then in 2001 I was on pole but had an electronic problem and finished fifth.

David Coulthard on the podium after winning the 2002 Monaco Grand Prix
Enjoying the moment after winning Monaco in 2002

Then, in 2002, I won again after qualifying in second. I had to manage the tyre wear very early on and Juan Pablo Montoya was right up behind me and so that was my better win in Monte Carlo.

My best ever win was probably 2000 at Magny-Cours when I famously gave Michael Schumacher the finger when I passed him to take the lead.

I'm not particularly proud of being a hooligan on the race track but it was a particularly fighting victory. I had to pass the Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Schumacher to take the victory and overtaking is not easy in F1.

Which do you find more difficult - driving an F1 car, or dealing with the rigours of live TV broadcast?
Nathan Norman, UK

Of course, driving a grand prix car is the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life.

The cars are just so fast, so responsive, so difficult to drive slowly and so difficult to drive quickly. There's a very small window of when they're relatively easy to drive.

What's the worse that can happen when you're standing in a paddock doing live television? You either don't say something or you say something wrong.

What's the worse thing that can happening in a racing car with a corner approaching at 300km/h? There are worse consequences to your self.

Dealing with Eddie Jordan is impossible. As predictable as we think he is, he's impossible to predict. What happens out of vision is he most difficult thing… That is challenging.

What is going on at Williams? They are close to being the slowest of the 'old' teams. You were with Williams when they were arguably at their greatest, is it time to sweep the decks and is there any way back?
Chris H, Cardiff

If you polled the paddock then you'd find Williams are one of the better-liked teams.

If you keep putting in the same ingredients when you are making a cake you cannot keep expecting a different result.

With the group of people that Williams have what are they hoping for? They keep the same team, change the drivers and expect something remarkable to happen.

It might, but the better way is to start making changes. I've never run a racing team but it seems logical to me that if it isn't working then you have to make changes.

Was Mika Hakkinen a good backseat driver when you did the Mille Miglia last week?
David Johnson, England

No, he actually did most of the driving because one thing he was not good at was reading the map.

Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard
Coulthard driving ex-team-mate Hakkinen on the Mille Miglia

We had a lot of fun. We probably spent close to 40 hours over three days in the car together so you've got to have the basis of a good relationship to handle that.

Mika and I spent seven years together as McLaren team-mates which is longer than your average marriage so we had fun.

People might be surprised to hear the wide range of subjects we discussed in the car.

(Tyres and girls? - Ed) Ha-ha, a little bit about girls but more about kids, family, life, business, investments; it was a good wide-range of conversation.

How are you enjoying DTM?
David Cowling, UK

I really enjoyed my first race at Hockenheim. I had my whole family there and took my Dad out in the two-seater and then my fiancee Karen.

The motivation for me in getting behind the wheel again is not about re-enacting my single-seater career.

It was a process of investment and return and I put all my time and effort into Formula 1.

At the end of the day, I don't have the same amount of time to put into DTM and that was always understood from the word go.

But I'm enjoying the experience and I hope to improve the results as the year goes on, but if I don't then nothing's lost.

How do drivers adjust their speed for the race to save tyres, how close to the maximum are they pushing?
James Nolan, Ireland

It's a feel thing - you get used to feeling a light car and then when you add 160kg of fuel for the race you know what that feels like too.

You also visually reference where you braked during qualifying and where you need to brake - and you need to brake earlier - when you have that much fuel on board.

And because you brake earlier with full fuel you begin to feel the turning point of the tyre earlier and there's no point going through the tyres at a big slip angle and scrubbing the rubber.

It's like having an eraser on the end of a pencil. When you rub something out on a piece of paper you don't rub the whole area you just rub the area you need to, and that's similar to handling tyres. It's feel and experience.

The other thing to remember is that every day in history is different so track and ambient temperatures have an effect on tyre wear. The more skilful you are, the more efficiently you adapt.

David Coulthard is a BBC Formula 1 expert and has won 13 grands prix.



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see also
Hamilton to gamble for Monaco win
13 May 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso sets Monaco practice pace
13 May 10 |  Formula 1
Monaco GP practice as it happened
13 May 10 |  Formula 1
Monaco Grand Prix practice results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Monaco Grand Prix practice photos
13 May 10 |  Formula 1
Webber expects tough Monaco race
12 May 10 |  Formula 1
Trulli shrugs off Monaco concerns
12 May 10 |  Formula 1
McLaren fear Monaco traffic jam
11 May 10 |  Formula 1
Monaco too close to call - Button
10 May 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton positive despite setback
10 May 10 |  Formula 1
F1 teams decide on 'F-duct' ban
09 May 10 |  Formula 1
F1 qualifying unchanged in Monaco
09 May 10 |  Formula 1
The Formula - F1 explained
26 May 11 |  Formula 1
Eddie Jordan Q&A
08 May 10 |  Formula 1


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