David Coulthard will always have a special place in McLaren hearts, former boss Ron Dennis has said following the Scot’s decision to retire.
Coulthard, 37, announced on Friday that he will retire at the end of season after fifteen years in Formula One, nine of which were spent with McLaren-Mercedes where he racked up 12 of his 13 wins – two of which were in front of his home crowd at Silverstone.
McLaren-Mercedes Team Principal Ron Dennis paid tribute to his former driver, heralding the Scottish veteran as a “true gentleman”.
“David has had an excellent Formula 1 career,” said Dennis. “He’s won 13 grands prix and is one of an elite band of drivers to have scored more than 500 world championship points.”
Dennis added that Coulthard will always have a special place in McLaren’s “metaphorical hall of fame” after the success he enjoyed with the team between 1996 and 2004.
“Anyone who has won a grand prix for our team has a place in our metaphorical hall of fame, so it goes without saying that anyone who has won a dozen grands prix for us has a very special place in our metaphorical hall of fame.”
“That’s certainly the case with DC. Moreover, he’s a true gentleman. As a result, the Formula 1 grid will be a poorer place without him next year. He retains an enormous passion for Formula 1, and I wish him all the best in whatever he does in the future, whether it be inside or outside our sport.”
Coulthard was given the opportunity to say farewell to the team he enjoyed so much success earlier this week after winning a prize in a charity auction to tour the McLaren Technology Centre.
The Scot invited his manager and former McLaren driver Martin Brundle along with him in his trip down memory lane as well as Red Bull colleagues Christian Horner and former McLaren designer Adrian Newey.
“David has always been a popular driver at McLaren and we’ve known him for a long time,” said Whitmarsh. “He’s driven more grands prix for McLaren than any other driver in Formula One history.
“It’s fantastic that he’s put his hand in his own pocket to support this charity auction and it’s great to see him back at Woking. This afternoon showed that we still remain friends with many of our former drivers.”
Coulthard was the first winner of the prestigious McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award after impressing the team with this title-winning charge in the 1989 British Formula Ford Series.
While he made his debut with Williams Renault in 1994 having been promoted from his test role in the wake of Ayrton Senna’s death, he made the switch to McLaren in 1996 where he stayed for nine seasons.
While he was beaten to the title by team-mate Mike Hakkinen in 1997 and 1998, Coulthard enjoyed considerable success with the team and fought hard for the championship in 2000, only to finish runner-up to a dominant Michael Schumacher.
November’s Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix will be Coulthard’s 247th race weekend. Over the course of his 15 seasons in Formula One the Scot has racked up 13 wins, 62 podiums and 525 points, the latter making him the fourth most successful driver behind Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.