David Coulthard: No bull at Red Bull

As a truly decent bloke, David Coulthard often finds that his 'nice guy' image off the track is mistaken for a lack of cold-blooded determination and aggression on it. But, as autosport.com's Jonathan Noble finds out, the Scotsman is heading into 2005 more gutsy than he has been for quite some time

David Coulthard: No bull at Red Bull

Coulthard's switch to Red Bull Racing has attracted its fair share of comments and analysis all winter - with an equal number of those thinking DC's done the right thing as those who think the switch is completely crazy.

It is clear that the move is a step down in pace for Coulthard, who has enjoyed nine years of pretty good machinery at McLaren. But out-and-out speed is not the reason Coulthard has gone to Red Bull Racing.

He sees an opportunity to build something around him - lay the foundations that he hopes will lead to the team following in the footsteps of BAR and emerging from the tag of 'also-rans' into serious big players. No-one is under any illusions that such a move is going to happen overnight, but Coulthard is not there for a quick fix.

The 2005 season is about Coulthard carrying on doing what he loves best - driving an F1 car and pushing and motivating a team forwards. He could not care what his critics think - it's a year where he wants to do his own thing.

Ahead of the first running of the new Red Bull Racing car at Jerez in Spain on Monday, autosport.com's Jonathan Noble sat down with Coulthard for a chat about his driving force - and found out just why DC is unimpressed by some of the opinions floating around about his move.

The reality is that McLaren has been one of the most successful teams in recent years and the blueprint for a good F1 team. But, as we know, the sport is highly competitive and incredibly difficult to get right year-to-year. We started last year in a less than competitive situation where Kimi and I were being lapped in races, but McLaren showed its depth by having the resources and determination to bring itself out of that by developing an updated car through the year. So I have experienced what it like to be down, outside the top 10, and the reality is the motivation remains the same. The motivation is always about going forwards, and the team remains the same because they are out there to try and do the best job they can. And you set yourself realistic targets to try to achieve them or surpass them. So that is exactly how I see the challenge of going with Red Bull Racing. To expect them to win a grand prix is a pipe dream at this moment in time, but there is absolutely no reason why, with a clear strategy of investment, attracting the right people and having the right facilities, at some point in the future that they cannot be competitive and racing for podiums.
It is same way that for several seasons people did not take BAR seriously and suddenly they appeared as one of the strongest teams and finished second in the constructors' championships. Whether I will still be competing when that moment comes is a different matter, but what I can do is play my part in building the foundations.

I have obviously read all the various comments of all the various different people giving their opinion and that inevitably goes with the territory. This is a public business and people will inevitably give their comments, but I am very clear. This isn't about doing something for someone else. For someone to suggest that I should go off and retire because I have a reputation and because of my statistics and all that, that is just a very defensive attitude. It is like saying, 'Oh, I don't want to damage my statistics by doing more races without having a chance to strengthen them.' I want to live my life. This is a significant part of my life, it's about the motivation that comes from working with the team, the excitement and energy that comes from working with those dedicated people, giving them direction and representing them on the race track and trying to do the best job that I possibly can. And if somebody is prepared to give me that opportunity then I am prepared to give 100 percent. That is the beginning and end of it. And as to other people's opinion on it? I have won grands prix and in doing so competed against and beaten the best driver in the history of our sport, so I don't feel I have anything to particularly prove or justify to anyone else. It is about me and the team.

I didn't think that. You don't have to face that as a reality until it is a reality. It is like worrying about the day that might never come - 'oh God, this might happen, or this might happen'. I had a clear strategy and I wanted to try and do the best I could, and I recognised at times it wasn't good enough and at times it was, and I wanted to continue and find my path. And that is why I am doing it. And why should it, if no-one else has shown themselves to be the choice of the team for whatever reason, why should I step to one side? You know, it is like people wanting Michael Schumacher to retire so they can see someone else win. Well, get lost! Michael should continue racing as long as he wants to continue racing and it is for everyone else on the grid to go out there and try to beat him.

No. I don't waste time worrying about what I did in the past. I can do nothing about that other than learn from it. I feel very, very lucky to be part of a sport that I always wanted to be part of and compete in. And although it is not often spoken about, I earn a living from this as well and so to do something that is my primary enjoyment in life and get paid for it, it means all of my boxes are being ticked. So all I look back on is the part I played in McLaren, Ilmor and Mercedes-Benz's success at the time, the part I contributed to the team, and it is not by accident that I was able to be nine years with one team. Loads of people will give their opinions, but it is just article filling. It means nothing, it really doesn't. What means something is how you feel.

I was at Ilmor earlier this year because I never had the opportunity last year to say thank you and I felt very comfortable and very welcome, and I have been at McLaren as well to say goodbye to Ron Dennis and I passed through various departments and people were pleased to see me. I have developed relationships and friendships that will continue beyond the competitive side of things, so I feel I was very comfortable to be there and I feel very comfortable at Red Bull Racing. You can go and say one has an amazing design structure that will stand the test of the time and the other is an industrial unit in Milton Keynes, but you are talking about different periods of times. No company starts, bang, just like that, every company needs to be built. Dietrich Mateschitz has a very clear plan on what he wants to do with RBR, what confuses the issue is that people think it is just a marketing tool for his drink. It is more than that.

It is a different challenge but I didn't feel I was lacking motivation to want to turn up to the track before. But clearly there were things to do that were not as enjoyable to do as other things, and there are the inevitable frustrations that happen when you are not achieving the success you would like to or the car would have allowed you to. I know what worked well at McLaren, I know how difficult it is and I don't under-estimate the times ahead. But what I think is great to see, and I don't view this as a criticism of the previous management because they did a great job, but Red Bull has clearly indicated that they want to do things their own way, they want to change things and they want to build it.

It is not about public recognition, it is about looking at the guys I am working with and knowing that we all gave 100 percent. There will be days where, for whatever reason, someone makes a mistake, but that is human nature. I am doing this for me, I enjoy it, and that is it. I am very happy for everyone to ignore me and let me get on and do what I can.

Coulthard hits back at critics
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