Aug 15, 2005
In January we asked these questions: how would you like to be washed up at 33? Have your career over before you reach middle age? Be thought of as over-the-hill before all your wisdom teeth come in? That sadly, is the fate of the professional athlete and the professional racing driver. Often they face living two-thirds of their lives or more after their career ends.
For several months it looked as if Formula One driver David Coulthard was likely to suffer that fate. And it was a cruel fate, because, with the exception of the incomparable Michael Schumacher, the Scot is the winningest F1 pilot still on the scene. Certainly his 13 Formula One victories are nothing to sneeze at, especially in light of the fact that the past three years of Coulthard's career have come in the midst of Ferrari's unprecedented dominance of the sport. Until this season it has been remarkably difficult to win a race if you weren't driving a red car, so his slump didn't necessarily reflect a decline in his skills. But despite the fact Coulthard was one of the few who gave the Ferrari drivers a run for their money in recent campaigns, he was still unceremoniously dropped by McLaren in favor of Juan Pablo Montoya, the former CART star.
Since F1 is a sport that is typified by the phrase "what have you done for me lately," Coulthard's gallant showings against Ferrari didn't count for much in 2004, when his qualifying record wasn't good in the new one-lap make-or-break format. He failed to bag a podium finish all year, and there was little interest in him from other F1 teams when McLaren dropped him. Until Red Bull stepped into the picture, that is.
This season Coulthard got a new lease on life when he signed a one-year contract with the team that has taken over what used to be the Jaguar operation. Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns Red Bull, decided a veteran hand on the wheel would be good as the team found its wings. To back up Coulthard, Red Bull then signed Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi.
So Coulthard doesn't have to face the specter or retirement quite yet. In fact, his results have been surprisingly good with a couple of top five finishes to his credit, not bad coming from a team that, as Jaguar last year, was absolutely dreadful. It's nice to know there is life after 33.
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