David Coulthard Q&A

After the post-race press conference in Malaysia on Sunday David Coulthard was cornered by the British media in the paddock. Little did we know that he was going to give us a surprise - a close-up view of his blistered and very red right buttock. A spectacular sight indeed, but anyone expecting to see a tattoo of the cross of St Andrew was disappointed! Adam Cooper joined the throng as DC gave the lowdown on the race in Malaysia, the past season, and the future. But first, what about that blistered right rear...?

David Coulthard Q&A

"The problem has been there all season, but it's the first time it's actually blistered. Normally I get out of the car and I've got two red marks on my arse. Because it was getting so hot here in practice I almost put a heat retardant there."

"I think it has! The skid plate was forward last year, and they put it right underneath. That's why Mika and I have been looking like a couple of overdone potatoes all year..."

"I have to say all credit to the engineers. I didn't want to do two stops, because I felt that from third on the grid the chances of Mika jumping the start and me passing Michael were slim, and I thought to go two stops would then guarantee I was going to be fourth. If Rubens was on a one-stop, that's where I'd end up. But they quite rightly said that if you go two stops, and you get the jump on Michael, then you have a real chance of winning this race. OK, the downside is you might be fourth, but surely the upside is trying to win... I have to say they were quite aggressive on it, and I think in hindsight they were absolutely spot-on. And I think maybe we've realised we need to be more aggressive like that more often."

"I think it has. Had I not filled the radiators... It's the old thing about if your aunt had balls she would be your uncle, but it's a fact I ran off the track and a fact I put grass in the radiators and the engine temperature went off and over the top. So we had to stop on lap 18 to clean the radiators, and you know at that point that you're giving away considerable seconds, because it's just too early. We could have run further than Michael's pit stop, so we can presume that we would have maintained the gap."

"I'm amazed it did. I guess they've got the radiator blanking down to the exact size to cool the engine under normal circumstances. I didn't think I ran off the circuit that much, but maybe there was a lot of grass there."

"There is a display, but to be perfectly honest you don't really look at it. You look at the rev lights, you look at the gears, and in the race you usually drive until the thing breaks, because it could be a faulty dashboard. In practice an alarm will come on and tell you, and you either switch off or drive into the pits."

"Yes, they said 'you're going to have to stop this lap, we need to clean the radiators', and then I knew a five or six second lead just wasn't enough, based on a normal two-stop strategy. At that point I thought Michael was on a one-stop, because I was pulling away. Once it levelled out and I was still bringing my lap time down, I thought he was on an option to do both, so I was a bit more comfortable that we were doing OK."

"I just think they're making better use of the tyres in qualifying. I think that [because of] the fact that I put new fronts on for my first stop, the car was very difficult to drive. I had a lot of oversteer, and I thought I had a gearbox problem, because I couldn't get my entries right. For the second stop I called to have old fronts again, because it gave the car a better balance as the tyres wore down. I think it just shows that when there's a lot of grip available they're [Ferrari] putting that grip on the road, whereas we're fighting that grip and struggling with rear end grip."

"You don't wish any of your competitors out of a race, because you want to race and you want to beat them fair and square. But obviously when I've had two startline mistakes this year, it deflects a little bit of pressure from me, the fact that Mika's done the same. I'm not sure if we've got different starting techniques that push us closer to the edge, but he certainly moved - a bit like I did in America - stopped and then went again. We were never going to win the constructors' championship in reality. It was a long shot to expect them to only get three points, so that was already gone earlier in the year. So obviously it was just a question of trying to get the best result, which was trying to win the race."

"I think we knew right at the beginning of the year that we maybe hadn't taken as big a step forward as we would have liked, in a number of areas. We still had a competitive car, but [as for] the '98 advantage that we had, and then reducing advantage in '99, there's some point when you could argue that Ferrari has had a better package in some circumstances than we've had. It makes it very interesting for next year. We've got to work hard, and obviously with Michelin coming in you never know what our other competitors can do. We're almost two seconds quicker than last year - that's not the car, that's not the engine, that's the tyre. If Michelin get it right, we could see some funny results next year."

"I wanted to speak to him before the weekend, but I didn't want to give him any edge for the weekend. But as the weekend's over I just want to... It's not a retraction of some of the comments I had on his driving standards, all it is is an acceptance that if you have a problem you should talk to somebody face-to-face. When I first started in F1, I always tried to shy away from publicly, 'He said this, OK I say that.' It makes great copy but it doesn't really help, does it?"

"I'll come and tell you after I've spoken to him! I just need to speak to him first hand, and tell him he's a..."

"Hey, I'm going to be the hard man of motorsport next year!"

"Yes, offering a hand which he accepted - lull him into a false sense of security!"

"Absolutely. My preparation for next year started already, a month earlier than I started last year. What can I do? You're going to hear the same thing, because I have to believe the same thing, that I can be better next year, that I can be stronger. I think my career is still on the up. I don't believe I've levelled out, I think I've improved in many areas this year, I've improved a lot in qualifying. I think I've shown that I can race wheel-to-wheel with the other hard men of motor sport."

"Definitely. I think when you consider all the things that happened this year, I think it's been a helluva year, a most unusual year. To be able to come through the things I've come through and still be able to perform at a high level shows that I've got the strength to want to go out there and fight and to want to improve. And I believe I can. I know there are still some weaknesses in my package, but I'm going to work on them, and I'm going to work hard. I'm not prepared to take the easy option and take a pay day and take a walk down the pit lane and give it Billy Big Balls pretending I'm number one. I want to earn that by beating a World Champion in one of the best cars. And that's what I'm going to do. So I'm going to struggle by on the several million that they pay me, and see if I can win."

"Yes. I think that I can still improve further in qualifying. And these little mistakes that aren't really happening in the heat of the battle, but happening at times... like before the race has started, like this thing on the grid in Canada and the start in America. I'm sure it's because you're not at boiling temperature, you're not at race speed, and that's why I'm slightly off guard and I make mistakes. I have to work at myself mentally to make sure that I have a complete plan that doesn't allow me to get into those areas where I make mistakes."

"Absolutely. From my side of the garage we need to improve our strategy. We were pretty poor in the second half of the season, and I'm part of that process. Spa - too late; Hockenheim - too late; Hungary - too early... You just can't afford to make those sort of calls if you're going to get those extra two points or extra four points that you need to win a championship. Again, you learn so much each year. This might seem blatantly obvious to someone on the outside, but when you're so close to it you sometimes can't see the mistakes that you're making. We'll really review the year, we'll look at it properly, and I really think we'll be strong."

"Yes. There are going to be changes in the set-up next year, which I believe will really strengthen the way the team works. So that will become obvious at the beginning of next year, what changes are going to be made, but I really think it's going to increase McLaren's ability to make strong calls and not make mistakes in that area. It's not that Ferrari don't make mistakes, and I'm not just being critical of our team, but because we've been perceived as being the best up until this year, every time Ferrari have beaten us they've got a lot of credit for that, and if they haven't beaten us people have had the attitude that we've got the best car and engine. Whereas in reality you can see it's been pretty close in performance this year."

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