Archive: 2000

One of the most worrying trends in F1 is the increasing tendency of wheels and tyres to come loose and fly off. Since refuelling was banned for the start of the 2010 season, the speed of tyre changes has become easily the most crucial element of a pitstop. With the greater number of pitstops this year as a result of the current deliberately dodgy tyres, this has become even more critical.

During the Chinese Grand Prix we saw Jaime Alguersuari’s right rear wheel roll itself off the car soon after a pitstop. It flew off towards marshals, photographers and other bystanders, while Vitantonio Liuzzi took to the inside to avoiding being hit while he passed the stricken Toro Rosso.

Top F1 journalist Adam Cooper reported on Twitter that the wheel came dangerously to hitting him:

#F1 Here's the wheel that Jaime Alguersuari @squire3 tri... on Twitpic

# Hoping to bump into @squire3 [Jaime Alguersuari] tonight after his STR wheel nearly killed me! Luckily he missed…

# I was behind an opening in the debris fence and hit on the next secition, about 2m away, head height. Bit scary…

# Here’s the wheel that Jaime Alguersuari @squire3 tried to kill me with! Scared the #### out of me… http://twitpic.com/4m224g

For me, loose wheels are easily the most dangerous thing in F1 today. When two marshals died in he space of a few races just over a decade ago, they were both as a result of flying wheels. Stronger wheel tethers were introduced after those incidents, but these do no good if the wheel is not properly attached to the car in the first place.

With the emphasis on tyre changes now at the very forefront of every race, it is no surprise that teams have been looking to save time in this area. Mercedes have been particularly inventive, developing a wheel nut that is attached to the wheel itself.

But there have been lot of wheels coming off since the start of 2010, clearly as a result of not having been attached properly in the first place. Robert Kubica’s wheel detached after a few laps of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes also had a few wheel failures last year. Among these was the truly scary moment in Hungary when Nico Rosberg’s wheel came off the pitlane, causing all sorts of havoc as it bounced and rolled around while several dozen mechanics were busy working.

It is high time this was nipped in the bud. I am sure the teams would take more care in their pitstops if a real penalty was applied. This isn’t a sporting issue. It is a safety issue, and any teams that are not attaching wheels securely enough should face a ban.

Flying wheels are not just putting drivers at risk. They are putting marshalls and mechanics at risk. But worst of all they are putting spectators at risk.

Renault were suspended in 2009 after Fernando Alonso’s wheel came off in Hungary that year. However, the suspension was lifted. That was fine. Then, it was a one-off incident — in the refueling era there is little to suggest that Renault were cutting corners.

But today, the loose wheel problem is truly endemic. It must be stopped.

At this time of year, it is often best to leave petrolheads alone. They may be tetchy. Perhaps they are a bit zombie-like.

This section of the Formula 1 season, in mid-autumn, is the part that contains a lot of the “flyaway” races that take place in Asia. This means getting up at ridiculous hours, all for our fix of watching cars go round in circles for a couple of hours. This section of flyaway races, and the one that comes at the start of the season, truly is a feat of endurance.

This year at work, I have ended up with lots of holidays to use up before Christmas. I have decided to use a lot of them around these flyaway races to help me cope with the unsociable hours. It is working out fairly well — I might plan my holidays around the concept next year!

But here is the thing. Is getting up ridiculously early to watch the grand prix taking our devotion to the sport too far? Lukeh has just published a post about his inability to explain this behaviour to his colleague.

This is just adding to the thoughts I have been having about whether it is time for me to relax my policy of trying to watch as much F1 action as possible live, rather than recorded. Is it such a big deal if I swap ridiculously early mornings for a nice long lie in and the comfort of watching the race whenever I want?

The appeal of watching it live

Since I originally got into F1 back in 1996, I can only have missed a tiny amount of races. There was the 2000 United States Grand Prix, which ITV neglected to broadcast live on a proper channel, leaving us with a late-night extended highlights show. There may have been one or two other races that I have failed to see, but I don’t think so. Naturally, if I can, I watch a race live — and qualifying too. And practice if I can get away with it!

It is easy to understand why watching the race live would be preferable. For one thing, nothing beats the thrill of seeing events unfold in front of your eyes as they happen. You just don’t get that feeling if you’re watching the highlights later in the day.

It’s also pretty cool to have Twitter open and to chat with fellow fans about the sport we love as the event itself is taking place. And for me, watching the race and qualifying with live timing open is an absolute must. The onboard channel is another nice bonus. Anyone who has seen the set-up I use to watch races knows about my need to have data as the race unfolds. These options wouldn’t be available if I had recorded the race.

I suspect that one of the reasons I became interested in F1 was that it gave me an excuse to stay up late and get up at exotic hours when I was young, when I otherwise wouldn’t have been allowed to. I became hooked to the sport during 1996, but I have very fond memories of staying up to watch the 1997 Australian Grand Prix, when ITV had a full night of special programming celebrating their first race since winning the rights.

I am sure there is a fair bit of chest-beating as well. Putting ourselves through this sleep deprivation is like earning a badge of honour. F1 fans can often be seen boasting about just how much of the action they have seen live and how little sleep they have had. It is easy to get sucked into this mindset. I tell my friends with pride, expecting them to be impressed — but they only react with shock and disgust.

This is before we have even gone into the traditional argument in favour of watching live. What if you accidentally find out the result? Can you spend the day without living in utter fear of somehow overhearing what happened?

Would it be all that bad to miss the race?

I am not yet contemplating missing a grand prix entirely. But I am beginning to wonder if recording a race and watching it later would actually be good for my soul. I have a reputation among some of my friends — none of whom are all that into F1 — of being a tad too dedicated to watching F1, even if it means getting up ridiculously early.

This weekend’s Korean Grand Prix could possibly be the first race in a couple of years that I haven’t seen live. Not since I had to work on Sundays, at the late, great Woolworths, have I failed to watch a race live.

Tonight, I am staying overnight at a friend’s home in Dundee, as we are celebrating her birthday. Of course, this sort of thing comes first — so I am sacrificing the grand prix that takes place early on Sunday morning.

But I would by lying my arse off if I didn’t confess that I have been thinking of ways to consume the race live. Setting the alarm and surreptitiously getting up to watch the race at 6am would probably be socially unacceptable in the extreme — even if I use headphones and turn the brightness down!

In this case, is it worth listening to it on the radio if I can’t access pictures? Perhaps even watching it on the Softpauer iPhone app could be a good substitute?

I somehow doubt it. The sensible option is therefore to chill out, remain calm, sleep through it and do my level best to avoid any spoilers until later in the day when I can watch the race by myself at home without disturbing anyone else.

I am not sure that my friends are all that impressed with the sacrifice I am making though!

I’ll be upfront here. While many like Williams, with their “plucky underdog” status and stridently independent approach, they have never been my among my favourite teams. To the extent that I have ever liked them, it has been as the anti-Ferrari. In other words, I like them about as much as I like McLaren, which is not very much — but hey, at least they can beat Ferrari.

Today, Williams can’t beat Ferrari, so I am rather indifferent about them. But at a time where the majority of the grid is made up of manufacturers — of cars and drinks — even I can see that there is something romantic about Williams. I think it would be good to see them at the front again.

But if I was a fan of the team, I would probably have well and truly lost patience by now. Every year the team says, “just wait — next year we’ll be back”. They spend all winter making positive noises. And then when it comes to the big day itself? They are even slower than they were before.

One of the most successful teams in history

When they last won a Constructors’ Championship in 1997, Williams had won more of them than Ferrari. The record was staggering — nine Constructors’ and seven Drivers’ Championships in just 20 seasons. It was an utterly fearsome record.

At that stage, Williams had won races in all but two of its seasons — its very first in 1978, and a brief drought in 1988 when the team had to make do with inferior Judd engines after Honda jumped ship to McLaren. Even then, Nigel Mansell managed to wring a couple of second place finishes out of it, which is more than can be said for what came after 1997.

Once again, Williams was left in the lurch after the departure of the front-running engine manufacturer — this time Renault. To make matters worse, chief designer Adrian Newey left Williams to join McLaren. 1998 was a year of continuity for Williams, in all the wrong ways — using what were effectively year-old Renault engines and what some said was the 1997 chassis adapted for 1998 regulations.

In 1999 the team faced further difficulties with Alex Zanardi struggling to adapt to F1 after a successful time in ChampCars. While the wins dried up, this difficult spell was thankfully short lived, as in 2000 Williams forged a new partnership with BMW.

2000 was a learning year for all concerned, but successes came between 2001 and 2003, when Williams returned to winning ways. Williams were even strong title contenders in 2003, with four victories and nine podiums, Williams were a strong player in a tight three-way battle for the championship. As unlikely as it seems today, Juan Pablo Montoya was almost a World Champion!

The slide from the top

Unfortunately, things started to go pear-shaped again in 2004. A radical “walrus nose” concept brought little in the way of performance, and a more conventional design was brought out midway through the season. Montoya managed to win the final race in Brazil, but this race remains the team’s last taste of success.

Almost every year since then has seemingly seen Williams slip back a bit further, with the successes of the old days becoming an ever more distant memory. In the past five years, the team has had just four podium finishes. (Barring success in Turkey, that number will reduce to three this weekend!)

The brightest spot has been 2007, when a consistent set of results from Nico Rosberg helped the team bag a commendable fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship (although that was after McLaren’s disqualification from the Championship). Apart from that, Williams have become a fixture at the back of the midfield — if you can call 8th out of 10 teams the “midfield”.

Arrogant enough to believe their own excuses

All the while, the excuses came, and fans were reassured: “next year is our year”. And next year comes and everything is all the same. Even if they trick people into thinking they’re fast by topping Friday Practice times, as Williams did in the first half of last season, people soon become wise to the fact that the car is not truly capable of it.

Before, there was always a positive spin to put on the situation. In 2009, Williams were bad — but at least Renault were worse and BMW weren’t much better. In 2008 people were more concerned with the alarming lack of pace in the Honda. 2006 was regarded as a tough deal for Williams, struggling with apparently sluggish and unreliable Cosworth engines.

It’s difficult to sugar-coat this year’s results in the same way. Although seventh doesn’t sound too bad, in effect the only teams that are behind them are either new (in the case of Virgin, Hispania and Lotus), facing hugely difficult political and financial constraints (Sauber) or have designed their own car for the first time (Toro Rosso). The shocker is that Williams are even being compared to teams like this.

Meanwhile, Force India look a great deal more convincing, and Renault have again leapfrogged Williams and look like potential challengers to the top four teams. Indeed, Toro Rosso even look like they can realistically challenge Williams on the racetrack, particularly with a couple of feisty young drivers who are stepping up to the plate in style, particularly in the case of Jaime Alguersuari. Meanwhile, in China Nico Hülkenberg finished behind the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen.

It seems as though Williams allowed arrogance to get the better of them. It was always someone else’s fault. But increasingly, Williams have been made to eat humble pie.

Williams lay the blame for their early-2000s dip at the door of BMW. This ended in an acrimonious split in 2005, by which time each party had become convinced that the other side was not pulling its weight. But BMW did a pretty good job when they joined forces with Sauber, the disappointment of 2009 notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Williams became inert — a permanent fixture of the midfield.

Of course, if it wasn’t the engine’s fault, it was the drivers’ fault. I was very interested to see Frank Williams admitting that, in the light of Mark Webber’s recent successes, the team was too hasty to lay the blame at the door of its driver for their average spell in 2005 and 2006.

When we had him obviously our car was a disappointment and we felt he was part of the problem. He probably wasn’t actually, with hindsight. The major point was that the car had problems.

Is there a way back?

I think the Williams of today is a great deal less arrogant than the Williams of four or five years ago. But now the damage has been done. Is there a way back to the top for this proud team? 13 years on from its last Championship success, it’s difficult to see.

Already, there are rumours that Williams are unhappy with Cosworth (just like in 2006). Rumours are linking them to a partnership with Renault. Williams were linked to Renault last year too, and Frank Williams confessed that the prospect of “Williams Renault”, a reminder of the team’s most dominant period in the 1990s, was exciting.

Other rumours link Williams to a partnership with Porsche, with whom they have collaborated on kers. But the problems run deeper than the matter of their engine supply, as surely the lessons of the BMW split show.

Two proud championshipsDespite all of its history and past successes, Williams have tried and failed to recover for too long now. Sadly, it seems as though this year Williams have to make do with racing against the likes of Sauber, a zombie team that is on emergency life support, and Lotus, a team that didn’t even exist a few months ago.

I hope they can make it. I was privileged enough to be invited to the Williams factory and museum last year. The museum is a wonderful place, brimful of some of the most successful grand prix cars there have ever been. The team only goes back just over 30 years, but it is such a huge part of Formula 1′s history. It would be such a shame if Williams were stuck at the back of the grid forever.

Belated congratulations to Jenson Button for becoming the 2009 World Champion. I know it’s long overdue, but hey — that’s what happens when real life takes over (more on that real life stuff can be found here).

I have not always been convinced that Jenson Button is a good driver. In fact, the only times he has impressed me before were his début season in 2000, and 2007 when he did an admirable job in what was by all accounts a horrendous car. In 2008 he was, oddly, not so impressive. Perhaps he had lost motivation after being let down by Honda for too many years, but the fact is that Rubens Barrichello did a better job in 2008.

The Brazilian had his moments in 2009, but it is difficult to argue that he was better than Jenson Button throughout the season. While Button’s sudden rise to the sharp end of the grid at the start of 2009 got many people asking whether it was all down to the car, Barrichello was often to be found scrapping around in the lower end of the points positions.

There is no doubt about the fact that this year’s Brawn car was much better than last year’s Honda car was a major contributory factor towards Jenson Button’s Championship victory. And it is true that Rubens Barrichello performed better than Button in the second half of the season. And, yes, without Barrichello’s vital set-up data, Jenson Button would probably have been nowhere.

But while Jenson Button was pounding in the wins, taking full advantage of the Brawn’s superiority while it was still there, Rubens Barrichello took too long to get up to speed with it. Let us also not forget that Jenson Button was seriously impressive during the first half of the season, putting in some of the best overtaking moves there have been all year.

It is certainly the case that this sort of aggressive form was not much in evidence during the second half of the season. After gaining victory in Turkey, it seems as though Jenson Button tensed up, not returning to form until Brazil.

For a lot of people, this was turning out to be a real damp squib. People do not like to see a driver winning a championship by merely bagging points rather than taking impressive victories. However, Button earned the right to be given this leeway, so impressive he was at the start of the season.

I would have said after Turkey that Jenson Button would have to have been really bad in the second half of the season to not deserve the title. But while he may have been slightly disappointing, he wasn’t really bad. He only failed to score once all year, in Belgium when he was crashed into on lap one. That is a pretty intimidating achievement.

Now it is no secret that Jenson Button suffered under the stress of defending his championship lead. Simply looking at his results for the season tells its own story. He was dominant in the first seven races, but occupied the lower end of the points for the rest of the season.

While some were critical of this drop in form, the fact is that almost all championship leaders do this. In fact, it would be completely foolish to any driver with a massive championship lead at the mid-way point to tackle the second half of the season in the same manner. As Ross Brawn said, if a football team is leading 3-0 at half time, they don’t play the second half in the same style as the first.

Looking back over the years, this is a pattern that is repeated time after time. The driver who leads at the halfway point of the season almost always scores fewer points in the second half of the season. Looking at the past ten seasons, the leader at the halfway point has always turned down the wick, with the exception of Fernando Alonso in 2005. The drop in performance has been particularly marked since the points system was changed for 2003, which shifted the balance towards consistency and conservatism over aggression.

(In seasons with an odd number of races, the middle race has been removed from the calculation.)

Year Leader at halfway point First half points Second half points Difference
2009 Jenson Button 69 27 42
2008 Lewis Hamilton 48 40 8
2007 Lewis Hamilton 64 39 25
2006 Fernando Alonso 84 50 34
2005 Fernando Alonso 59 74 -15
2004 Michael Schumacher 80 68 18
2003 Michael Schumacher 54 39 15
2002 Michael Schumacher 70 68 2
2001 Michael Schumacher 58 55 3
2000 Michael Schumacher 56 52 4

Clearly, Button’s drop-off was particularly extreme. However, it was not that much more extreme than Alonso’s in 2006. Alonso is rightly lauded for being conservative when he needs to be. Button should be too. Even though the drop-off seemed alarming, the fact is that he had made himself more than enough room to get away with it, and still secure the championship with one race to spare. Why expend more energy by taking the more risky strategy of going all-out for wins when you can achieve it in the way Jenson Button did?

Nonetheless, it is difficult to deny that the way Jenson Button won the championship was slightly underwhelming. It certainly wouldn’t have been very satisfying were it not for his scintillating performance in Brazil. Of course, he did indeed pull that performance out of the bag just when he needed it, so it is slightly academic now.

But by almost any measure you can conceive of, Jenson Button was the most deserving person to win the championship. I have had a look at different scoring systems that would reward more consistent performances throughout the season. Although it is always a spurious exercise to impose different scoring systems on a set of races that have already taken place (remembering that altering the incentives inevitably affects behaviour), it is interesting to look at systems that may have punished Jenson Button for not performing so well towards the end of the season.

One such system would be to split the season into, say, four sections, with drivers dropping their worst score from each quarter of the season. What with there being an odd number of races in 2009, this is affected by where you decide to place the splits. But with three sections of four races, and a final section with the final four races, this cuts Jenson Button’s lead down to just three points over Sebastian Vettel. However, Button would still win under this system.

Splitting the season into two halves and making drivers drop two scores, Button’s victory margin can be cut down to two points. However, Button still wins the championship.

The only vaguely sensible system I have been able to come up with is making drivers drop six scores from the whole season. This puts Button and Vettel level on points, although of course Button would still win the championship because he has won more races.

Only by splitting the season into two and making drivers drop three scores from each half does Vettel score more points than Button. Whether it would be desirable to have a system where six races from each driver’s season do not count towards the championship is debatable.

Looking at the results of the season, it is striking just how superior Jenson Button was to everyone else. Jenson Button only failed to score once. His nearest challenger, Vettel, chalked up five zeros. Mark Webber failed to score seven times, while Hamilton finished pointless nine times.

Button also won two more races than anyone else. To Button’s six, Vettel took the chequered flag four times, while Barrichello, Webber and Hamilton each took it twice.

In terms of the results, the clear closest challenger to Button has been Vettel. No doubt there would have been complaints about his championship too, due to his tendency still to make mistakes, and his alarming inability to overtake. And speaking of overtaking, who could deny that Button pulled off some of the best overtaking moves of the season?

Is Jenson Button a deserving champion? I can hardly imagine what more you could ask for.

This evening I came home to read about the tragic news of the death of Henry Surtees in yesterday’s second Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.

Yesterday afternoon I opted to watch the German MotoGP, where spectators were treated to an excellent motor race. Once that was over, I logged onto the internet. It was soon clear that there had been a serious accident in Formula Two.

Henry Surtees was struck on the head by a loose tyre after he drove into the path of debris from Jack Clarke’s accident. Clarke spun off and hit the barrier, sending his wheel flying into the path of Surtees. It seems as though Surtees was immediately knocked unconscious. His car went straight on at Dingle Dell, hitting the barrier and coming to a standstill shortly afterwards.

Straight away it was clear that it was a nasty accident, and the fact that there was very little news regarding his condition in the following hours rang alarm bells. Later in the evening news broke that Henry Surtees had died.

It is trivial to point out that motorsport is dangerous. But a lot of effort has been put in over the years to try and eradicate and chance of serious injury or death. The risk posed by flying wheels and tyres must count among the most difficult of these problems to solve, and yesterday’s tragic events at Brands Hatch underline just how dangerous they can be.

The two most recent fatalities related to Formula 1 were both caused by loose wheels. During the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, circuit marshal Graham Beveridge was struck by a tyre which was sent flying after Jacques Villeneuve was involved in a high-speed accident with Ralf Schumacher. Just a few races before at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix, another marshal, Paolo Ghislimberti, was killed following a first-lap pile-up where Jarno Trulli’s tyres flew off his car. Those are the only two F1-related fatalities since the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.

Since those accidents, a lot of effort has been put into strengthening the wheel tethers which are supposed to prevent wheels from flying off at high speed. Unfortunately, a solution has not yet been found, and wheel continue to fly off cars regularly. At this years Australian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica narrowly avoided being struck on the head by a flying tyre following his accident involving Sebastian Vettel.

All forms of motorsport face such dangers, and Formula Two has had some accidents involving flying rear tyres already in its short history, as Brits on Pole have noted. Questions are already tentatively being asked about the safety of the Formula Two cars which are designed and built by WilliamsF1. But the tragic death of Henry Surtees only underlines the risks that we already knew existed in motorsport.

The situation is particularly awful given that his father, the World Champion Grand Prix motorcyclist and Formula 1 driver John Surtees, raced in F1 during the 1960s and early 1970s, when the sport was probably at its most dangerous, and is still alive today. Henry Surtees, racing in an age when motor racing has probably never been so safe, died when he was just 18.

Both clearly had high hopes that Henry Surtees would reach F1. Here is a video from March of this year where John and Henry Surtees explain what attracted them to Formula Two.

My thoughts are with the family and friends of Henry Surtees.

The Brazilian Grand Prix heralded the end of David Coulthard’s career. Unfortunately, the race ended in a turn 1 smash. It deprived David Coulthard of a dignified send-off to his career, as well as depriving us of the awesome helmet cam, used by FOM for the first time since 1994.

In most ways it sums up David Coulthard’s 2008 season, which has seen him become a magnet for crashes. It was a most unfortunate season for the Scot with only one or two highlights — most notably 3rd place in the Canadian Grand Prix. Overall, though, the impression left is that DC may have been better off retiring one year earlier.

It is going too far to say that the first corner crash sums up DC’s career. Even though he could never count himself among F1′s very most talented, the statistics of his career make for pleasant reading. With 246 grand prix starts under his belt, he is the fourth most experienced Formula 1 driver of all time.

He is arguably the most successful British driver of all time. His tally of 13 race wins is relatively modest compared to other British drivers, particularly Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. But he has scored more points than any other British driver — 535. By this measure, he is the 5th most successful driver of all time.

For the majority of his career, David Coulthard has been lucky enough to have the best machinery. His race début came in the saddest of circumstances, as he was chosen to replace Ayrton Senna when the Brazilian died in 1994. But he raced for a Williams team that was just entering a phase of true dominance.

When he moved to McLaren just a few years later, it was in time for the Woking squad to make its own major resurgence. Ace designer Adrian Newey had moved across to McLaren from Williams at roughly the same time.

But at both Williams and McLaren, his team mate usually made much more of the opportunities the best car provided them. Damon Hill was a major contender for the 1995 World Championship. Meanwhile, Mika Häkkinen strung together two World Championships in a row in 1998 and 1999.

It is too easy to say that Häkkinen got favourable treatment at McLaren. DC may have moved over for the Finn in two successive races, in Jerez 1997 and Melbourne 1998. Critics point out that nice guys never win, and that DC’s apparent happiness to let his team mate past was evidence that DC did not have what it really takes. But the fact is that Coulthard struggled to get to grips with his McLaren car from 1998 onwards. That may have been due to the introduction of grooved tyres or whatever.

DC was to be further thwarted by another rule change a few years later. The Scot never could get to grips with one-lap qualifying. When the pressure was on him to deliver at the first time of asking, he more often than not found himself unable to deliver. Things did not improve much when the knock-out format was introduced.

Despite the patchy record, though, DC has had some great highlights during his career. When Häkkinen lost his motivation, DC was in prime position to challenge Schumacher for the title in 2001. He did, admittedly, finish up a long way behind Schumacher, having scored just 65 points. But he was definitely best of the rest that season, and the only person who could seriously claim to have given Schumacher any bother that season.

And a tally of 13 wins, no matter how good his machinery was, is fairly impressive stuff. David Coulthard was no fool.

Just when it looked as though DC’s career was coming to a halt, he moved from McLaren to Red Bull. It breathed new life into his career. He was reinvented as Formula 1′s elder statesman, a role he adapted well to. In his first season at the midfield Red Bull team in 2005, he scored as many points as he had at McLaren in 2004.

Since then he has been reunited with the chassis designer that has accompanied him throughout his career, Adrian Newey. He scooped up a clutch of great results, including two podiums along the way.

Overall, throughout his many many seasons, David Coulthard has driven for just three teams in his entire career. That demonstrates just how valuable every team felt he was to the package.

All the while, David Coulthard was great entertainment off the circuit as well as on it. Even though some nicknamed him ‘David Cardboard’ at first, he quickly developed a strong personality and was unafraid to use colourful language in his interviews.

Now his career has fizzled out. And even though DC never achieved the status of true greatness, and the World Championship eluded him, I think he has a lot to be proud of.

Thankfully, this colourful character promises not to go away for good. He will remain at Red Bull in an advisory role, proving yet again that teams invariably appreciate his input. Furthermore, it looks almost certain that DC will form part of the BBC’s team covering F1 from 2009 onwards. At least it looks like he will be entertaining us for years to come.

And here is one of the most entertaining moments in F1, provided by David Coulthard himself: