Tag Archives: david coulthard

Formula One in the wild

It is easy to forget just how impressive a Formula One car can be. Seeing the thoroughbred machines around a demanding section of circuit such as the slalom of Silverstone’s Becketts or the big dipper at Eau Rouge is one thing but taking them completely away from their comfort zone is the only way to truly appreciate how viciously fast and edgy a Grand Prix steed can be. The video above features David Coulthard taking a 2009 -vintage Red Bull around the ranches and the streets of Texas before heading to the forthcoming Circuit of the Americas of Texas, the pompously-titled track that will herald the comeback of Formula One to the USA. It currently only exists as a life-size outline in the dirt, who needs to see another F1 car on tarmac anyway? With all the Tilke-designed tracks dominating the Formula One decade we have become numb to the appeal of wide-expanses of flat grey roads, this is something a touch more exhilarating. The glorious slow motion shots convey the energy expended by a racing car even when the driver is being told to reign in the horses and temper the urge to tread the outer-limits of physics in the pursuit of speed.

OK, so driving on dirt, ice or on a beach is only done in an F1 car for show rather than sport, but there is the occasional circuit that takes Formula One into the unknown and gives us a glimpse of their fury, none more so than this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. The track around Marina Bay is the video game made real, the kind of venue that F1’s futurist ethos and extreme excess deserves.

With the demise of true road racing the street circuit has been elevated to the ultimate challenge for man and machine. Walls reach out and touch the fleet cars, the usually unmoved suspension bucks on the drain covers that we barely notice in our daily existence; it is the morning commute on fast forward. Nelson Piquet once likened driving at Monaco to riding a bicycle around your living room. That must have been muttered by the Brazilian after a dry race, throw in some rain and it becomes even dafter than that. If the weather forecasts are to be believed then the Marina Bay track could become more trying due to the seasonal downpours in that part of the world. Greasy, bumpy city streets lined with solid walls are tough enough in the wet but Singapore’s joker is the fact it is run well into the night under powerful artificial illumination that threatens to dazzle the drivers as it reflects off standing water. The floodlights could very well live up to their name.

There are few scenarios short of Red Bull’s antics in Texas that will turn the F1 car into as much of a fish out of water as what awaits them this Sunday. Even without the added complication of rain the DRS system and Pirelli’s adventurous tyre compounds will provide extra excitement in a race that scarcely needs more livening up unlike the other modern cookie-cutter tracks.

Although Red Bull are due to wrap up the titles sooner or later, Sebastian Vettel is likely going to have to wait to be crowned for a second time. If Vettel wins then Alonso and the Mclarens will need to be on the podium with him to keep their slim hopes alive. There is a great chance of this; Fernando has been the driver to beat here with while Lewis Hamilton is the ultimate street-brawler who exhibited admirable restraint last time out at Monza when faced with Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes which failed to show up on the radar of race control. Whatever the result Singapore has fast become one of the truly great Grand Prix hosts, if nothing else it will be great to see the grid battling for glory in as unique a setting as any. There won’t be any cowboys or lassos, but if anything I think it will be more of a spectacle.

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The GOATs of commentary

What good commentary looks like. (pic Neil Spalding)

Martin Brundle and David Coulthard may be two of the best racing analysts in the business but I still found something missing in their first stab at race commentary together. We need a voice of the fans, somebody who hasn’t seen it all and done it all. Dear old Murray hasn’t had Ayrton Senna crash into him or given Schumacher the finger, MB and DC have. This makes for great insight, but it’s less conducive to an audio ride that is as thrilling as the pictures. We need people who are amazed by the skills and bravery our sport brings out of the chosen few who dare to partake in it, observers who are in thrall of the combatants rather than just the admittedly welcome but ultimately too knowing perspective of former racers.

The definitive commentary team in all of motorsports has to be Toby Moody and Julian Ryder who man the mic for Eurosport’s excellent Moto GP coverage. Their pal and sometimes co-commentator Neil Spalding tweeted the above picture which to me says it all. It’s only the 125s but already the pair are peaking. It’s not just Mr Moody’s mad eyes, look how he’s gripping Jules like a mother clutching onto a wayward child! This is what sports commentary should be all about. Mark Webber clearly thinks so, as he cheekily told the BBC F1 boys…

Have a look at this clip to hear (and see) just how good they are at what they do. Toby also has extensive knowledge of car racing that shames many who voice four-wheeled sports. He’s even worked for a few F1 teams back in the 1990s; wouldn’t it be great to have energy like his on the BBC? Brundle and Coulthard are brilliant at what they do, but let’s have some crazy characters with trainspotter tendencies back in the box with them. Ben Edwards, Martin Haven or the Beeb’s own Crofty would do the trick too and I believe it would do wonders for keeping folk awake and away from the remote if there was feeling like this coming through the speakers.

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