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GP Week : Issue 34
>>F1 INSIGHT FIFTEEN years ago, David Coulthard made his Formula 1 debut for Williams, drafted in from the test team to fill the nigh-on impossible boots of the late Ayrton Senna after the Brazilian’s tragic loss at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. But Coulthard was to establish himself as much more than just a stand-in. Over the next 15 years he would start over 240 Grands Prix, take 62 podiums and 13 wins and amass 535 points, that final statistic seeing him rank as the most successful British driver in history and the fifth-highest F1 points scorer of all time. As he stands on the brink of embarking on his final Formula 1 race, his loss to the paddock has only just started to hit home. One of the most genuine, decent and honourable people in the modern sport, Coulthard has become so much more than just a racing driver. He has become a role model and an ambassador for the sport, an institution in a fickle business. In every sense, a legend. GPWEEK: This weekend you’ll be arriving in Brazil for your final Grand Prix. Does it feel strange yet? DAVID COULTHARD: It’s just a distraction to each of the previous Grands Prix, to have to keep talking about it. My decision is made, the dates are set therefore it will feel how it feels. I don’t know how it’s going to feel until I get there, but of course it’ll be my last qualifying session, it’ll be my last Grand Prix and I just hope that I do a nice memory – whether that means qualifying or the race … touch wood. 15 years is a hell of a long time. Did you ever think it would be that long when you first started out in F1? No, I didn’t. But then again I didn’t really know how long it was going to be. When you’re young and you’re focussed on something you never think about next year, you’re just thinking about next event. 23