Red Bull's David Coulthard talks about the upcoming season
Q: What do you think after the first test with Bridgestone tyres?
David Coulthard: It is a different scenario. The way the Bridgestone tyres operate is quite different from the Michelins. The Michelins have a very strong front end, you can really lean on the car under braking. In that respect I think who's got experience of the Bridgestone tyres will initially have a bit of an upper hand. But I've adapted to so many different formulas in Formula One. It's called Formula One but we had wide cars, slick tyres, three and a half liters, and then it was narrow cars, grooved tyres, three liters. You just have to keep adapting.
Q: Do you think the beginning of the year will be harder for you because of all these changes?
DC: I think if we have a good car, that will be the flavour for the year. If we don't understand the car, if it takes a whole year to understand it, then it's already too late. If the car isn't as quick as you would have liked it to be, you can develop it but other people develop as well, and the history would suggest that you'll never catch up. You may have the odd race when you fit stronger than the others, but you've got to be setting the pace to be the pacesetter.
Q: What does Schumacher's retire mean to you?
DC: Honestly it doesn't really affect me one way or the other. I think it has been the end of an era, he was the most successful driver in the history of the sport, therefore you lose a sort of a benchmark, but life goes on.
Q: Who do you expect to be the main opponent this year?
DC: We presume the big three of the first division are McLaren, Renault and Ferrari. That's a presumption, we don't know. But if you say that, the second division is made up of Honda, Toyota, BMW, Williams and hopefully ourselves. And then I'm presuming at the back it's going to be Spyker, Super Aguri and Toro Rosso.
But I think it will be a more competitive season generally. No one would have thought in 2005 that Ferrari would only win one race, when they had dominated for so many years, and then they bounced back again the following year. McLaren won ten races in 2005 and they won no races last year. I don't think we can really predict too much.
Q: Is it one of the most unpredictable season you can recall, and if so, who is going to be the favourite?
DC: I don't think it's going to be the most unpredictable season, because the championship battle will be probably between those three, McLaren, Renault and Ferrari. Renault I see maybe a little bit weaker because Fernando had a big impact on the way they performed. What I think is the biggest thing for this year is that you don't have the very known slow group at the back.
Super Aguri have the Honda from last year, that was already a quick car, capable of winning one Grand Prix, so you have to presume they are going to be a bit stronger. Toro Rosso will be very close to what we have, so I think for me it will be very clearly Spyker at the back of the grid and in my mind I don't see how they'll be ever be anything than the last car. And then it's a question of what happens in that mix.
Q: Will you marry your new girlfriend soon?
DC: I don't have a plan to progress to marriage right now, but it's obviously the logical step from engagement. Honestly my focus is on the season and hers is on her own carreer. At the right time we'll take the time to look at it, but there hasn't been the right time to do so.
Q: You are the oldest driver on the grid and the second most successful in terms of wins. How much longer do you think you'll be on the top form?
DC: I don't know. It's not something really I think too much of. I just live for this moment, I enjoy being part of a Formula One team. Actually I made this comment the other day, I said 'I'm not here because my father owns a Grand Prix team', but it was picked up wrong and they wrote 'because my father used to be in Formula One', so someone thought I was having a fuss at Damon or Jacques. Unfortunately this was misunderstood. But I don't have any plans. I'll be making wedding plans before I make retirement plans.