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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 15:30 UK

Coulthard announces F1 retirement

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By Andrew Benson

David Coulthard
Coulthard is heading into his last British Grand Prix this weekend

David Coulthard will bring his 14-year Formula One driving career to a close at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old Scot, who won 13 races, made his announcement on the eve of Sunday's British Grand at Silverstone, which will be his 237th Grand Prix.

Coulthard drove for Williams and McLaren and is now at Red Bull Racing, where he will continue as a consultant.

"My decision was taken earlier this year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive," he said.

"I'm still enjoying the immense challenge that Grand Prix driving represents. I also have the desire to look for new challenges within the sport.

"I will remain actively involved in the sport as a consultant to Red Bull, focusing on testing and development of the cars.

"I have an open mind if I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motorsport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet.

"The decision to make this announcement at the British Grand Prix should be an obvious one for all to understand, as I have achieved two of my F1 victories at Silverstone and I am a member of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which hosts this event.

Coulthard, the oldest driver in F1, made it clear ahead of the British Grand Prix that he still loved driving and was content with his career in the sport.

"If you had told me when I started in 1994 that I would retire after 15 seasons, I would have bought that," Coulthard told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I never dreamt I would last that long.

The private plane crash in 2000 from which David Coulthard escaped
This plane crash in 2000 changed Coulthard's perspective on life

"To have raced against the most successful driver in the history of our sport in the case of Michael Schumacher and to have finished second to him in a world championship is no embarrassment.

"I will finish at the end of the season feeling fulfilled. I had a chance to win a championship, I had a winning car.

"I didn't achieve the championship win but I did achieve race victories, so I won't walk away thinking 'if only I had that chance'.

"Winning a championship would have been fantastic but it doesn't mean that I don't sleep well at night or that I don't have a great life. I think I have been very fortunate.

"Some people are good enough and some just don't have that last little bit - that is something I can deal with quite comfortably."

Coulthard, who won the British Grand Prix in 1999 and 2000, began his F1 career in 1994, when he was promoted from his role as test driver at Williams following the death of Ayrton Senna.

He won his first race in Portugal in 1995, and moved to McLaren for 1996.

He spent much of his career there in the shadow of Mika Hakkinen, who won the world title in 1998 and 1999 when Coulthard was his team-mate.

But the best season of his career came in 2001 when he finished second in the drivers' standings to a dominant Schumacher.

Coulthard remains one of the most liked figures in F1, and is widely admired for his honesty, honour and a sense of humour that did not always come across to the public.

"I could have been killed in 2000 when my plane crashed, I could have been killed at various other points of my life during the journey I have been on, but I'm still here," he added.

"I have had a great career - better to be a has-been than a never-been. F1 is unique no question, but it is wrong to say nothing can replace that."

David Coulthard celebrates beating Michael Schumacher in the 2001 Brazilian Grand Prix
Coulthard won 13 races, including this one in Brazil in 2001

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner paid tribute to his driver as "a consummate professional".

"He has demonstrated that he is a real team player, a fact reinforced by the statistic that he has only driven for two other F1 teams in his career," said Horner.

"He scored our first point, our first podium and was the first of our drivers to lead a Grand Prix. Above all, he is a gentleman and I regard him as a good friend.

"His retirement brings to a close not just his career as a Grand Prix racing driver but also a chapter in the history of F1, if one considers the changes the sport has been through while he has been involved with it."

see also
Webber to continue with Red Bull
10 May 08 |  Motorsport
Coulthard hails poignant podium
08 Jun 08 |  Formula One
David Coulthard Q&A
07 Mar 06 |  Formula One
David Coulthard
03 Jul 08 |  Drivers
Coulthard wins in Monaco
26 May 02 |  Photo Galleries
Coulthard will race in Spain
03 May 00 |  Scotland

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