David Coulthard: 'My favourite car from the past is the Gullwing Mercedes, but I have a Mercedes 280SL from 1971'

A chat with the former F1 driver, who has won 12 grands prix

WEEHAWKEN, NJ - AUGUST 15:  Former Red Bull Racing Formula 1 driver David Coulthard prepares to drive the Red Bull running show car through the Lincoln Tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey for a video shoot on August 15, 2012 in Weehawken, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for Red Bull)
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Former F1 driver David Coulthard made his name winning karting championships in his early teens. After Ayrton Senna's death in 1994, the Williams team offered Coulthard a seat and his Formula One career began. He went on to drive with McLaren for nine years, winning 12 grands prix. Having retired in 2008, Coulthard now serves as a commentator, guest speaker, development driver and ambassador for brands such as Hugo Boss and IWC Schaffhausen. He currently lives in Monte Carlo

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?

I'd be at home, cuddled up beside my wife, and my son would be coming through the door, sleepy-eyed, hair sticking up, saying he'd like his breakfast.

You're sitting down to the perfect meal. Where are you, whom are you with and what are you eating?

Because I'm a man of convenience, I really like things to be spontaneous. The benefit of living in a place like Monte Carlo is that restaurants and entertainment are readily available. You can say, mid-afternoon: "Is anyone around tonight? Do you fancy popping round to the Italian or the Indian?" There's a great little Italian restaurant very close to our apartment, called Michelangelo, and the owner is a flamboyant Italian man in his 70s. I'd have a few friends from Monaco there. Nothing set – essentially just getting people around the table, at a restaurant where you are looked after.

What does your dream home look like?

I'm lucky that Monaco has an apartment lifestyle, but I can take advantage of the Mediterranean by having a boat. We like to do a bit of skiing, so we have a little place in the mountains in Switzerland. We also have a place in town in London, because I do business there. So actually, the dream home is a combination of each of those, because they all facilitate different lifestyles.  

Are you a collector?

I wouldn't consider myself a collector, but then I have ended up acquiring all of my racing cars from my career and I've got a little museum in Scotland that has all my race cars, trophies, helmets and things like that. 

What's the greatest car ever?

My favourite car from the past is the Gullwing Mercedes, but I have a Mercedes 280SL from 1971, which I bought in 1995. It's not as exotic as the Gullwing, or as expensive, but it's the one I could afford at the time. There are Gullwings available now– and I could probably go and get one, but then that dream would be over. So, I'm saving that particular moment up for some point in the future, when I am not quite so busy.

Where's your next holiday destination?

Our next holiday will be the Maldives in January; we like going there because it's that Robinson Crusoe-style experience. We're creatures of habits in that respect.

Is there anywhere you haven't travelled to yet, but would like to?

My wife would like to go on safari, but I am reluctant to put myself in the back of a Range Rover and go off down a dusty road. But she will win out eventually, though. 

What do you never leave home without?

I have a bag with my passport, electrical devices, money and cards, so I can always make a quick exit.  

What's the most overrated luxury?

Luxury can be overdone. When you get things that are about form, rather than functionality, I'm very critical. Maybe because my career was about having a vehicle built around me, which had absolute performance and functionality. Visually they looked great, but internally they were absolutely usable. Often something will look great, but be impractical. That, for me, is overrated luxury.

What is life's greatest luxury? 

There's time, which is all about management. I fill my time with a lot of things, because I enjoy the challenge and the opportunity. If I think from a material point of view, luxury is having the funds available to live a comfortable life. But, of course, anyone who has been lucky enough to live quite a full and opportunity-filled life will know that, actually, the greatest luxury isn't really material things. It involves family and friends and good times. I'm a social animal and I like to be surrounded by people who are not judging you for anything other than who you are and how you are.

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