Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio
– 1995: Coulthard gets his first win
Yet now, as reigning Wimbledon Champion, he has metamorphosed into Britain’s number 1 tennis player.
It’s not the first time that such patriotic fervour has been bestowed on another nationality in the name of British-ness.
Zola Budd, a record breaking South African athlete was fast-tracked through the British citizenship procedure with substantial support from the Daily Mail after they learnt that her grand father was English. Groups that seeked the abolition of apartheid highlighted the special treatment she received as applicants normally had to wait years for citizenship to be granted.
Yet when she failed to win Olympic Gold, her detractors soon forgot she was “British”.
It’s not just England that is guilty of this sporting conduct. Fiona May was born in England and competed for Great Britain between 1987 and 1990 at world level in long jump events.
She married an Italian athlete and took Italian citizenship, and from 1994 she represented Italy at the Olympics and other international contests.
Scotland has produced two of the titans of F1.
Over a decade from 1962 to 1973 Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart dominated Grand Prix racing, winning 5 Driver championships and 52 Grand Prix wins between them and it seemed that in 1994 their legends were going to be joined by a square jawed newcomer.
David Coulthard became Britain’s new hope in 1994 when the tragic circumstances of Imola promoted him from test driver to race driver for the Williams team.
He would compete in only 8 races during the remainder of the 1994 season because Renault demanded a big name in the second Williams. Mansell, the reigning Indycar Champion, would step in when the schedules allowed.
Although having signed for Mclaren for 1995, the FIA Contracts Recognition Board ruled that “Williams is the team entitled to the services of Mr. David Coulthard for the 1995 FIA Formula One World Championship season.”
In hindsight this was possibly a great piece of luck considering the respective teams performances in 1995.
In 17 races, he would retire 8 times, record 7 podiums, a fourth place and win his first Grand Prix.
Williams had brought an updated car to Portugal, the FW17B, which proved conclusively faster during qualifying as Coulthard took pole position from his team-mate Hill with Schumacher third fastest. On inspection of the cars after qualifying, concerns were raised over the reliability of the gearboxes. The team decided to revert to the original FW17 as it had proven race reliability.
The race started and was immediately stopped following a start line accident between Katayama and Badoer. The Japanese was extracted from his car unconscious and taken to hospital.
From the restart, Coulthard led into the first corner, followed by Schumacher and then Hill. This would have a profound effect on the race as the Williams strategists changed Hill’s race from a 3 stop race like Coulthard’s and Schumacher’s to a two stop race.
The plan was that Hill would be ahead of Schumacher following the German’s third stop and would defend against the fresher rubber of the Benetton’s driver.
This worked perfectly but Schumacher was forceful and passed Hill for second place, thus ensuring that Williams would not be able to call a switch between their drivers.
Further back, Todt radioed Alesi and told him to allow Berger to pass. This was ignored, so Ferrari gave the Frenchman a slower stop which resulted in getting Berger ahead. As can be imagined, Alesi was not at all happy!
It was a timely victory for DC as he had retired whilst leading the previous two Grand Prix’s, and had been informed two weeks previously that Williams had signed Jacques Villeneuve to replace him for 1996.
So how do we sum up DC? Is he British or Scottish?
I guess it depends on your heritage to begin with. No doubt England fans who remember the friendly football games against the Scots will claim he is from north of the border, especially when he drives into a pitwall during a pit-stop.
Or does he become an honorary Brit/ Englishman when he gives Schumacher the bird during the 2000 French Grand Prix? The one time in Formula One that giving a finger salute seemed appropriate.
Seb take note..