'At times, I felt like the odd man out'

THIS was the year when grand prix racing ran the gamut of emotions from tragedy and exhilaration to acrimony and frustration, and David Coulthard's eventful if brief season proved a microcosm of the campaign as a whole. While Damon Hill had the r esponsibility of team leadership thrust upon him after Ayrton Senna's death in the San Marino Grand Prix, that same tragedy gave the 23-year-old Scot his big chance as he was propelled suddenly from test driver to race partner for the Briton in the Willi ams-Renault team.

Notwithstanding the cause, it was a dream opportunity for any hungry young racer, and the manner in which he seized his chance marked him out as a driver of rare promise, and the subject of a tug-of-war between Williams and McLaren.

"The day that Ayrton was killed, I was at Silverstone for a Formula 3000 race,'' Coulthard recalled last week. "I've never been one to suggest that you should not compete, but that day if anyone had proposed that we didn't race on the Bank Holiday Monday, I'd have been the first to raise my hand to second it. I finished second, but my mind was elsewhere.

"Once I was driving the Williams my lowest point was in Hungary, where I crashed in qualifying and again when running third in the race. A friend picked me up from the airport afterwards and said I was like a little boy lost. I had started to pull away from Martin Brundle and the pressure was coming off. I was starting to relax again and think about the finish. Maybe my concentration slipped. It's not that I don't want to admit to such mistakes but, genuinely, I don't know how it happened.

"It was disappointing not to finish second at Monza, where I was well within myself, but these things happen. That wasn't my mistake, like it had been in Hungary. I just hate making mistakes.

"With the return of Nigel Mansell, I knew all along he would take the wheel for the last three races but it really hit me immediately after Portugal when I wasn't allowed to do the tyre test that followed. I was really starting to enjoy things. I was on the crest of a wave and it was a body blow. I had to keep a low profile after that and, what with other things that were happening at McLaren, at times I felt like the odd man out.

"The high points were a combination of driving well at Monza, then finishing second in Portugal after leading for the first 18 laps. I don't want to sound too big for my boots, but I stood on the podium very happy for my mechanics and the people who'd supported me, rather than for myself. After all, winning is the only reason we are in this business The minute you finish second you want to be first, especially when you're so close.''

Jackie Stewart was once one of Coulthard's mentors, and there is much of the great triple champion's self-assurance in the young contender. Setting aside Damon Hill's own brilliant graduation you have to go back to the older Scot's first Formula One season in 1965 to find anyone who came in with a similar impact to Coulthard's. He has Stewart's speed and his innate awareness of the way things are in an aggressive world. His steel has been given harder temper by the off-track grievances that have developed since he was "replaced'' for those final three races by Mansell, and his future now looks much more settled.

Despite the acrimony behind the contractual battle, Williams are expected very shortly to confirm Coulthard as Hill's partner for the forthcoming season, after the Contract Recognition Board in Geneva ruled in their favour. Coulthard's management companyhas negotiated less restrictive terms and the incident is now history.

Although Coulthard has yet to win a grand prix, the fact that Williams are prepared to place him above an established fighter such as Mansell says it all. As the Scot prepares for his first full season, the indications are that Hill may have to deal withfar more than just Michael Schumacher's challenge in the months ahead.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities