David Coulthard - Red Bull RacingThe week prior to today’s Spanish Grand Prix, David Coulthard and Red Bull in general had a relatively productive test session at the Barcelona circuit which culminated in DC being fastest on the final day, and indeed fastest overall, setting a new lap record into the bargain.

We’ve seen before, however, that it can prove difficult to transfer testing pace into qualifying and then race pace, so it was a pleasant surprise that DC managed to get through to the final session of qualifying yesterday and make the top ten on the grid for the first time this season.

The usual bad luck and unreliability that has dogged much of the Scot’s career was this time transferred to the equally unlucky Mark Webber, who had some mechanical troubles in the first round of qualifying and ended up in 19th position. In a post-qualifying interview Webber tried to dampen any thoughts of him repeating DC’s feat of driving through the field in the last race, claiming the Spanish track is much harder to overtake on than Bahrain - not sure if he was really playing down his hopes or if Webber was trying to take some of the shine off his team-mate’s drive in the last race! The complete grid for today’s race can be seen in this post on BlogF1.

Although he made it into 9th place on the grid, Coulthard was still left a little disappointed with his grid position claiming that his car hadn’t performed very well on the fresh tyres used for his qualifying runs. Hopefully he can make a good start, which he normally does, and can keep out of trouble through the opening lap whilst still having a good run at getting past the couple of cars in front of him which are more likely to hold him up in the first stint of the race.

There is growing speculation that this will be DC’s last Spanish Grand Prix, as people seem to be becoming more and more convinced he can’t stay in the sport for another year. Coulthard himself of course says this is nonsense, that he is being targeted simply because he is the oldest driver left in the sport. Last year, although people expected Michael Schumacher to quit, there was no widepspread call for him to leave even though he is older than DC, so I can see Coulthard’s point that these things shouldn’t be based solely on age. In fact Damon Hill was 36, the same age as Coulthard is now, when he won his first World Championship and didn’t retire until three years later.

He is still producing the goods in the races so far this year, and although he has failed to finish this has mainly been due to a lack of reliability on the car’s part rather than a lacking in his driving - although admittedly he did make one error of judgement in trying to drive through Alex Wurz in the Australian Grand Prix, but at least he was mature enough to admit his mistake!

There is a general consensus that Mark Webber has been brought in to replace DC as the experienced driver at Red Bull who will be paired with a bright young talent next year, but if the results go against Webber and in favour of DC is there really any point in change for change’s sake? Surely as a business man, Dietrich Mateschitz has to go with the option he thinks is going to score his team the most points and thereby earn him the most money.Only time will tell what next year holds, but I for one hope that today is the start of a run of points scoring finishes for DC which can act as a springboard for his retention in the Red Bull team next season.