David Coulthard may be enjoying his new career as a Formula One pundit, but today marks ten years since his final victory in the sport.
The 2013 Australian Grand Prix may still be eight days away, but the 2003 season’s earlier start was unsurprisingly welcomed by the fans. With the race coming mid-way through the era of Ferrari dominance, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello locked out the front row ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and Coulthard started a lowly eleventh. The changeable conditions meant that many drivers had to decide whether to fit intermediate or dry tires, which, in addition to Barrichello’s jump start, allowed Coulthard to fight his way through the field.
After a safety car period bunched the field, Schumacher tussled with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen, and the two collided meaning that the defending world champion limped home in fourth place. This was his first finish off the podium since the Italian Grand Prix in 2001. With Barrichello retiring earlier on in the race, it was Ferrari’s worst result in a race since the turn of the century.
At the front, Williams’ Juan Pablo Montoya appeared to have the race all sewn up, but a spin allowed David Coulthard to pass him with eight laps remaining, and the McLaren driver held on to win the race by eight seconds. It foreshadowed a very close season in which Ferrari were pushed by Williams and McLaren to the final race. Although Coulthard could not continue this good form, he did score one more podium in 2003 at the final race in Japan.
Coulthard went on to complete one more season with McLaren before moving to Red Bull, where he spent a further four years before hanging up his helmet at the end of 2008.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.