Race of my Life: David Coulthard on the 2000 French GP

The latest episode in Autosport’s Race of My Life podcast series is David Coulthard, on a day that the 13-time Grand Prix winner took the fight to Michael Schumacher – and won. And swore at him in doing so!

Race of my Life: David Coulthard on the 2000 French GP

Race: 2000 French GP, Magny-Cours

Car: McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15

Although I won grands prix at Silverstone, Monaco and Spa, the reason I decided the 2000 French GP was the greatest race of my career was because I put myself in such a zone that day. Looking back, if I could have sustained performances like that across my career, I could have been a championship contender, but history shows I had troughs as well as those high peaks – and giving Michael Schumacher the finger that day adds an extra talking point…

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000, David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000, David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes

Photo by: Motorsport Images

I had my motorhome right inside the circuit, and I remember getting up early, going straight onto my rowing machine, got my heart and lungs pumping, and I really felt ahead of the game. I was in a good place – focused and determined – and I always went well at Magny-Cours.

I qualified second to Michael, after I’d had to switch to my spare car for the first part of qualifying. My race car, which had a fuel leak, was repaired in time for a last-minute flyer, but I just missed out.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000 leads David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes, at the start

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000 leads David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes, at the start

Photo by: Motorsport Images

At the start, Michael chopped across me, cutting me up and forcing me to lift for the first corner, the fast left-hander, so Rubens Barrichello was able to sweep around the outside.

I passed Rubens on the track, which is never easy in F1, then I caught Michael after the first pitstops and I had to overtake him – which was even harder.

The first time I tried at the Adelaide Hairpin, he drove me wide on the exit. I was already frustrated about what he did at the start, so this made me really angry!

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000, David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari F1-2000, David Coulthard, McLaren MP4/15 Mercedes

Photo by: Sutton Images

It’s a weird thing: I’m not normally someone who gives people the finger or the wanker sign, both of which I then did to Michael. But when Mika Hakkinen spun me around at Estoril in 1996, I never realised – until I saw photographic evidence – that I’d given my team-mate the finger that day too!

I think it shows that when I’m in that absolute zone, I have this subconscious fighting spirit. My conscious thought would have stopped me doing that, because I’ve got quite a reserved personality. Straight after the race I apologized for my hand gestures; I was back in the room!

Read Also:

That anger had given me such a focus, when I did pass Michael a few laps later – we touched wheels a little bit – off I went and won the race. It felt like anything other than a win that weekend wouldn’t have been enough; before the race started I knew I was going to win the grand prix.

Podium: second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, race winner David Coulthard, McLaren, third place Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari

Podium: second place Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, race winner David Coulthard, McLaren, third place Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari

Photo by: Sutton Images

The picture on the front cover of that week’s Autosport is as happy as you’ll ever see me.

Interview by Charles Bradley, first published in Autosport, 19 January 2012

For more insight, check out our Podcast...

 

 

shares
comments
Can new rules save F1 as we know it?

Previous article

Can new rules save F1 as we know it?

Next article

Italian GP deal extended by an extra year to 2025

Italian GP deal extended by an extra year to 2025
Load comments
How Verstappen has become F1 champion material Prime

How Verstappen has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle Prime

Why long-run times should please Red Bull in Austin F1 battle

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be set to be another close contest.

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Prime

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Prime

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Prime

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. Kevin Turner looks back at the life of Switzerland's first F1 winner on the 50th anniversary of his death

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Prime

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Prime

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021