Fuelling Around podcast: David Coulthard on the tragic passing of Ayrton Senna and how he felt about replacing him


Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard joins hosts Jason Plato and Dave Vitty on the award-winning podcast Fuelling Around to discuss his career and how he felt about replacing Ayrton Senna at Williams after his tragic passing.

Coulthard is one of the most recognisable faces in British motorsport having competed in F1 for 14 years, and is now seen on Channel 4’s highlights coverage of the sport.

The 52-year-old sat down with Plato and Vitty to discuss the highlights from his long career, his thoughts on Lewis Hamilton switching to Ferrari and how it feels to watch his son compete in karting.

David Coulthard opens up about the legendary Ayrton Senna

During the podcast Coulthard discussed working as a test driver for Williams in 1994, when Senna sadly lost his life at Imola during a race, and how he was asked to take his seat a few weeks later.

“When you’re a racing driver you’re looking at the end of your nose and beyond, you’re very self-centred and very much about opportunity. You have to be focused,” Coulthard explained.

“It’s the benefit of youth, you don’t know what you don’t know, and as you get older you become more aware of the consequences, you don’t just jump in all-believing, you start to use your experience to maybe hesitate. I think that’s why in some cases you lose a bit of performance.

“Whereas when you’re younger you just seek opportunity, you go for it and you go ‘yeah of course it worked because that’s what I do’. And then when it doesn’t work, you blame the other guy,” he joked.

“It was obviously a horrible weekend. I was at Silverstone at Formula 3000, and on the Friday we had Rubens Barrichello have a huge crash, and I think he broke his arm and his nose. Saturday sadly Roland Ratzenberger lost his life.

“And then on Sunday I was at Silverstone for qualifying because it was the bank holiday Monday race of Formula 3000. I was watching the F1 race on the Avon tyre truck, because we didn’t have mobile devices to watch these things back then.

“I saw the crash and I saw the movement from Ayrton, and like everybody else, I thought ‘okay it’s a biggie, but he should be okay.’ And then it was however long thereafter that the news came through (about his passing).

“I’d received a fax that morning. I was living in Milton Keynes with some of the mechanics, one, Simon Adams, still works for Red Bull Racing. I received an old-fashioned paper fax from the Williams team signed by Patrick (Head), Frank (Williams), Ian Cunningham and Ayrton.

“Ayrton’s message was ‘very best to you’ knowing that I was racing and qualifying that day, and then later he lost his life. The next Grand Prix was Monaco, the team only entered one car for Damon (Hill), and then I was put in the car for Barcelona.

“If you’d kind of thought about it more, if Ayrton can die in that car, the rest of us absolutely could. But you always believe in yourself and take the opportunity. Even now it feels like I was detached from it, and I think that’s our safety mechanism.”

Plenty more episodes of Fuelling Around to enjoy

Series eight has got off to a flyer, but if you haven’t listened to Fuelling Around before, you’ll be glad to know there’s a wealth of previous episodes from seven series for you to listen to.

A host of celebrity guests have littered the award-winning podcast that has so far produced a string of excellent shows to listen to.

You can also tune into Fuelling Around on Spotify, Apple, YouTube or various other platforms if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

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