RACING driver David Coulthard, ex-Formula One racer, BBC commentator and Mercedes’ DTM star talks to MotorSport Vision, the owners of Brands Hatch circuit, ahead of his second Brands Hatch DTM appearance this weekend.
MotorSport Vision: What are your feelings on your return to Brands Hatch and racing in front of your home crowd?
David Coulthard: The reasons are twofold – I’m really excited as this track is part of my early career and the British crowd is always nice, I’ve got my family down which makes it a more interesting weekend as well, so hopefully we’ll have a nice Autumn weekend’s weather.
MSV: How has your season gone so far and how have you have progressed from last year?
DC: I think that this season I’ve got a lot more confidence and knowledge of what to expect driving the car, but I’ve not had any better results – I’ve had one points finish, which I’d also achieved at the end of last season, so arguably it’s come a bit earlier. But I think at various points my pace has been better, I had fastest lap at the last event at the Nürburgring, which doesn’t bring any points but nonetheless it shows that because these guys are experienced and know how to drive the cars, I showing that I’m making progress and getting pace.
MSV: Where does Brands Hatch rank amongst the world’s great circuits?
DC: Historically Brands Hatch is one of the great tracks in the world among my generation of drivers, and I’ve raced in the lower formulae here. You can say some of the younger Grand Prix drivers have missed this circuit on their way up. Whether it’s the GP or Indy circuit, you can say it’s a natural track, fast, flowing and challenging.
MSV: What is the key to unlocking a great lap time on the 1.2 mile Indy circuit?
DC: I think the key to being quick is momentum. You could argue it’s the case with every circuit but there’s no real stop-start corner, even Druids is a long hairpin. And of course with Clearways you’ve got to carry the speed up and over the rise and it’s the undulation that makes it quite tricky.
MSV: What are the main differences in your approach to driving a DTM car compared to a Formula 1 car?
DC: I don’t think there is really any comparison, apart from the obvious four wheels and a steering wheel, otherwise the feeling, the sensation is completely different. There’s a lot more movement, more weight, more momentum. A GP car really feels like it’s bolted to the racetrack – everything you do, move the steering a millimetre, the car moves a millimetre – it’s very responsive – whereas you have to be a lot more patient in a DTM car, but it is the fastest form of touring car racing.
MSV: How pleased are you to see Paul di Resta graduate from DTM into F1 and immediately perform so well?
DC: I’m delighted – I knew he was a great driver, I hoped that he would be able to establish himself over the course of the season, but I genuinely didn’t expect him to be able to do that so quickly and there’s no question that he has set the foundation for a good long career in F1. A lot depends on just how Force India progress and what decisions he makes on where he drives in the future.
MSV: Do you see any other DTM drivers racing at the moment that could make the step up to F1?
DC: There’s no question that Gary Paffett has the experience of F1 because he has tested for McLaren for so many years. I don’t know with Jenson or Lewis there if he’s ever going to get that chance. But nonetheless if he didn’t that’s a loss as he would have been a very good F1 driver. As for the others I don’t know how good they were in single seater racing – Christian Vietoris is racing in GP2 and progressing there. There are some people that are more suited to touring cars than single seaters and you would say arguably at the moment that I’ve been better suited to single seaters than touring cars! But I’m enjoying the journey.
MSV: What are your targets for the Brands Hatch round?
DC: I’d love to score, it would be fantastic to be in the points, last year I jumped the start unfortunately and got a drive-through, but it would be nice to be in amongst the mix and come back with all the bodywork not damaged.
Tickets for the DTM at Brands Hatch are available on the gate from £10, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or visit www.brandshatch.co.uk