Coulthard believes Hamilton could quit F1 after 2020

David Coulthard (GBR) Channel 4 F1 Commentator.
© XPB 

Former Formula 1 driver turned commentator David Coulthard believes that Lewis Hamilton could decide to retire and walk away from the sport after 2020.

"I think it's got to be on his mind," Coulthard said on BBC Radio 2's Graham Norton Show on Saturday. "I think that he'll go to 2020 which is [the end of] the current Concorde Agreement.

"That's the agreement between the commercial rights holder, the FIA and the teams. It defines how the sport looks and feels.

"But I think beyond 2020 there's every likelihood he may well be releasing his first [music] album which he's been working on."

Asked who he felt may be in line to take Hamilton's place in the future of British motorsport, Coulthard identified reigning GP3 champion George Russell.

"He's with Mercedes as a reserve driver, so he wouldn't be known internationally," said Coulthard. "But he's certainly someone that has got skills, talent and potential.

"Potential is a great word in sport, a lot of young guys get into it using the word potential. And then of course the fulness in time will tell us whether that potential is fulfilled. But I think he's one to watch."

Coulthard didn't see any realistic potential for a female driver breaking into the pinnacle of F1 anytime soon, but he wasn't against the idea.

"There's no physical reason why women couldn't be successful," he said.

"Historically they are better drivers than men because there are less insurance claims, less crashes with ladies on the road. So that must translate into something in racing!

"It's just numbers. My youngest sister raced karts and she won some races in karting, so I think she was more naturally talented than I was.

"But I had that sort of relentless work ethic to keep trying to improve, keep trying to get the best out of myself. So she stopped racing, but I think it was just purely numbers."

Talking of the prospect of Hamilton's retirement led Coulthard to muse about the end of his own time in F1 and his adjustment back into 'normal' life.

"The reality is of course that there is nothing quite like 220mph, braking into a corner or going through a corner at 150mph. It's a huge adrenalin rush.

"I don't go looking for it and the reality of everyday life is somewhat underwhelming! But what I have done is through myself into business [and media work.]

"For one year I couldn't go near a gym," he said. "Because that was 20 years of my life - the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep was Formula 1. The first thing when I thought about when I woke up was Formula 1. It's a very selfish world in which to live when you're a professional sports guy."

Moving into commentating was one way of making the transition less of a shock - and it was no spur of the moment decision.

"Even before I got anywhere near Formula 1 as a driver, as a teenager when my father and I were mapping out this route towards racing in the fastest form of motorsport, he spoke about James Hunt working with Murray Walker who were the commentators for the BBC at that time.

"He said, 'Son, after your career you might want to consider a broadcasting,'" Coulthard recalled. "It wasn't that I thought I have a voice and everyone must hear it, but it just seemed like a natural progression.

"That little adrenalin when I was going live for the first time, it wasn't quite Formula 1 adrenalin - I couldn't smell the fear - but I was certainly motivated!"

Coulthard was asked whether he would consider taking on a presenting role in Top Gear after news that Matt Le Blanc was quitting the BBC's motoring show.

"I did look at Top Gear and did have the opportunity when Chris Evans got involved," he revealed. "But it wouldn't have worked out with my Channel 4 broadcasting for Formula 1.

"So they have my number, but oddly enough nobody's called!" he laughed.

Lewis Hamilton and David Coutlhard

Coulthard was appearing on the radio show to promote his new book, "The Winning Formula: Leadership, Strategy and Motivation The F1 Way".

He said that watching Dietrich Mateschitz build Red Bull into a title-winning F1 team had been a big life lesson to him..

"It's been ten years since I raced in F1, but pretty quickly after retiring - three or four years after - I was getting more and more invites to go along to company seminars and conferences to talk about how teams work in F1.

"The most visual example of great team work is doing a two second pit stop. It's 20 ordinary people doing something quite extraordinary in pursuit of marginal gains where everyone is empowered and responsible.

'Having done more and more of those talks, I realised across different industries people were engaging with the business of sport and the sporting analogies and I thought it was time to put it in a book."

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