Coulthard: 'If you're good enough, you're old enough'
David Coulthard offers his thoughts on the lack of 'life experience' from the younger generation of Formula One drivers but says drivers must live for the time they are in and this era is completely different to his.
In modern Formula One, teams are only permitted to test on very rare occasions and, with the increase in media and particularly television coverage of the junior championships, drivers have to show a professional, adult face from a very young age.
David Coulthard, who made his Formula One race debut for Williams (aged 23) at the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix, the Scot replacing the late Ayrton Senna who had passed away just a few weeks earlier, told fans at Autosport International, "You've got to live for your time and I have no regrets about the journey I had. I slept on a few sofas and in the back of vans. I did the slightly more hard knocks towards getting to the opportunity of being in Formula One.
"A lot of them are not doing that now but actually, it's only relative to who you're racing against.
"If we go back through time, our parents would say how difficult it was for them relative to our journey, and your grandparents would have had a more difficult time because of the period of when they were living.
"I'm not the person who looks back and goes 'it was more difficult'."
As time has progressed and testing has become far more limited, the opportunities for teams to give young drivers the opportunity to test a car have equally diminished. The testing sessions of old have now been replaced with hours spent inside the simulators and this makes it far more important for teams to pick a driver and back them through the junior ranks.
Hours spent by putting the wrong talent in a car can no longer be clawed back and, while seeing this as a partial negative, Coulthard suggests that the extra simulator time could be focusing the drivers more for when they do get out on track.
"It is a fact that we tested every week," continued Coulthard. "We had race teams and test teams. I loved that because I was in the car all of the time and that gave me opportunity to improve as a driver. They don't get that opportunity today, so they have to be a lot more focused and do a lot more simulator work to be on message when it really counts during a Grand Prix weekend.
"The fact that they come younger [into F1] and inevitably they don't have the life experience, because you hope that you'll be a better person at 30 than you are at 20 if you've gone through a continual development, and you hope that that development would continue. In a sporting sense, I still think the 30-35 is the brilliant window for racing drivers in terms of life experience.
"I don't think they get faster, i just think you're more able to make life decisions which enable you to - for instance, over the last couple of years, Lewis Hamilton has been managing his own contract. Before that, it was being done for him. These are all life experiences.
"He's not doing that because he wants the workload, it's because he wants the ownership. It's his career, so rather than someone else reading the small print, he's now reading that and I think the young guys coming into Formula One today only want to see the contract when they sign it.
"They will inevitably develop, but if you're good enough, you're old enough. If you're good enough, you're not too old. That's the key message in life and in motorsport."
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