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David Coulthard to retire from F1

British Red Bull driver David Coulthard has announced he will retire from Formula One racing at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old Scot, who is currently 12th in the Drivers’ Championship with six points, told of his decision ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, which will be his 237th start.

Coulthard made his debut with the Williams team in 1994 before joining McLaren two years later. He remained with them for nine years before switching to Red Bull in 2005.

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Newsflash — Lewis Hamilton pole at Silverstone

Breaking News

Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

It will be Hamilton’s third pole in four outings and most welcome to him and the fans in his home Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, 22, is in his first season of Formula One racing and has notched eight podium finishes in eight races. There has never been a more assured, or explosive, start to an F1 career.

Already 14 points ahead in the drivers’ championship, a win tomorrow would give him an enviable position from which to grab the World Championship at his first attempt.

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Lewismania at Silverstone

Such is the success of Lewis Hamilton in winning both North American Grand Prix, after a string of podium finishes in his first season in Formula One, the commentators are forecasting “Lewismania” at Silverstone in early July.

The McLarens

He has already been likened to “a cross between Ayton Senna and Alain Prost” and remains the one to beat in Sunday’s French Grand Prix.

With a 10-point advantage over McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, Hamilton is sure to start his home GP as leader in the Drivers’ Championship whatever the result in France. One British newspaper says, “He is the hottest ticket not only in motor sport, but arguably in any sport”.

Given the notorious lack of reliability of British sportsmen over the years, one might expect Hamilton to buckle under the weight of expectation. Somehow, though, we know he won’t. Temperament is everything at the top level, and those comparisons with Senna and Prost — two drivers known as Sr. and M. Cool — we expect Hamilton to sail through his biggest test yet.

Team boss Ron Dennis is well aware of his role : “It’s a new experience for all of us.I’m just trying to use common sense to make sure we handle everything the right way. We’ve all had a bit of skirmish in the early races. … They [Alonso and Hamilton] have to be extra careful how they talk about each other in the press. We want to be thinking about what a great achievement this is rather than waiting to put the next fire out.”

Hamilton was at Silverstone this week where the team will have three days of testing ahead of the two back-to-back GPs in France and Britain.

Dennis said, “It is going to be a great season for us. They will have every opportunity to compete. It’s stressful but manageable. Alonso is behind but in the fortunate position of being in a car that can win.”

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Ecclestone and Silverstone

I see Bernie has being having a go at Silverstone and its owners, the BRDC again. Apparently, he is fed up with the BRDC never managing to fulfill its promises regarding redevelopment of the circuit.

Damon Hill

Damon Hill, president of the BRDC

As usual, the problem is funding the work necessary to bring Silverstone up to modern standards for F1 tracks. Noises are made about the possibility of government assistance but this is the UK we’re talking about – since when did a British government donate public money to a project as popular as keeping the British Grand Prix?

F1 Fanatic has an interesting proposal that might ensure Silverstone’s survival: that Bernie himself buy the track and spend a few of his many millions in bringing it up to date. Since Bernie has already invested in the Turkish Grand Prix circuit (and thereby ensured its existence for years to come), it seems reasonable that he should do the same for a circuit as loved and historic as Silverstone.

Now there would be a marriage made in the corridors of power, if not in heaven – the two Stones coming together in a union of bliss for the foreseeable future. But it’s the Silver that might get in the way; Bernie did not become rich by investing in lost causes and I’m not at all sure he would be interested in throwing his loot at such a big project as Silverstone. The Turkish circuit is almost brand new and does not need much cash to keep it up to par; Silverstone needs several fortunes to turn it into the glitzy venue that Bernie wants.

Yeah, I tried very hard to get in a quip about Eccles cakes but failed – see if you can do better…

So it remains to be seen whether Silverstone will survive yet again through its annual crisis. But there is one point in all this that I have not seen mentioned yet. Amongst all the cheers for Bernie’s purchase of the Turkish circuit, I detected no pondering upon the matter of a conflict of interests. Surely that must occur if the man who says yes or no to prospective GPs also owns one or two of them? How likely is he to cut out his own GP if it fails to come up to spec? And are not other circuit owners entitled to query his impartiality as a result?

It is not that I think Bernie would do anything underhand or that I want to see the future of some circuits threatened because they can’t get funding from Bernie. I am just interested and wondering why the matter has not been raised before. Call me awkward or a pot-stirrer – that would fit well enough.

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