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Coulthard: "Life isn’t fair. Neither is F1”

Ahead of the 2015 Formula One season kicking off in Australia on 15 March, had a chinwag with white-trouser enthusiast, ex-F1 driver (a two-time winner at Melbourne Park) and BBC pundit David Coulthard. There aren’t many more knowledgeable or effusive experts than DC, and he wasn’t afraid to let rip…

DC on… F1 teams going bankrupt

“It’s a very hot topic. Say, if three Premier League teams went bankrupt, three more would pop up from the league below, but that isn’t how it works in Formula One. F1 is unique - you have to design and build your own car, but the lower GP2 formulas use a one-make series.

“The public might disagree with this, but life isn’t fair, right? Some people have silver spoons, some have nothing. That’s the way of the world, and F1 reflects real life - better than any other sport. If your business model doesn’t work, you go out of business - as would happen if you had a pub or shop.

“If I had a pub or a shop across the road taking all your customers, I’m unlikely to pop over and say ‘here’s a few quid to keep you in business’, aren’t I?”

DC on… Red Bull’s dynasty and Mercedes’ success

“Red Bull is an energy drinks company - which has won four world championships. Whereas, Mercedes actually invented the car in the year eighteen hundred and something. Them winning a world championship should be a lot less surprising than Red Bull doing well.”

DC on… the rise of the pay-driver

“There have always been pay-drivers in F1. In history, F1 started with wealthy owners and amateurs who just wanted to thrash around Silverstone. In life, there will always be the Picassos and Beethovens - or Sennas. Not every year, but in history, there will always be the headline people making their mark.

“Right now, you might not say there is a future Senna, but raw talent will always find a way - you have to believe the cream will rise to the top.”

DC on… Lewis and his demons

“It’s fair comment to say Lewis appears more sensitive to his private life influencing his professional life. Is that vulnerability - or is that what makes him great? I think it’s too early to cast judgment.

“Meanwhile, Nico is going to be a father, he’s settled, he’s over the disappointment of losing the championship - though you have to say Nico didn’t do as good a job as Lewis last year. I see Nico having a great chance, now he has the experience of battling for a title.”

DC on… F1 safety and the closed cockpit argument

“There’s been a lot of debate on closed cockpits. As a driver, I always felt the real danger was something striking my helmet. The way I look at it, the DNA of F1 is open-cockpit, open-wheel racing - in the same way MotoGP is two wheels, an engine, and a guy sitting on top in leathers.

“Could you reduce the risk of head injuries with a cockpit canopy? Yeah, course you could - but that takes away the DNA of the sport. It’s like those wingsuit guys who skim across tree tops in the air: that would scare the s**t out of me, but for them, it’s a thrill.

“You can’t make life 100 per cent safe, or you certainly can’t make F1 100 per cent safe.”

DC on… would he still like to be out there driving?

“I wouldn’t. I’m happy with the opportunity I had. I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t the worst, and I did my job as the team player. I’m 43 going on 44, and I’m not wishing I was back out there. I’ve had my time, it was a great era, and I really enjoyed it.

“I enjoyed battling with Mika and Michael, but these days, it’s not my generation. I love watching it and talking about it, but I don’t have the same desire to be part of it and hang out with the drivers.”

DC on… Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, his tip for the title

“He’s the star of the sport, and I’ve been super-impressed with him. I didn’t know he was such a good racing driver! In Montreal and Budapest he really fought for those victories.

“His pass on Vettel at Monza was exceptional, and his pass on Alonso at Montreal - wow, from a long way back, and Fernando’s no mug! It’ll be interesting to see how he handles being a team leader…”

The F1 season kicks off with the Australian GP on Sunday 15 March. Watch highlights on BBC One at 13.15, listen live on Radio 5 live and follow all the action on the BBC Sport website.

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