David Coulthard is a 13-time Formula One Grand Prix winner – including the 2000 France GP – so when he arrived at the airport for the Cannes Red Bull Air Race he took an instant, and professional interest in the raceplanes and pilots.
Coulthard is no stranger to the Air Race, he previously attended races in both New York and Abu Dhabi. This was his first visit since the series returned in 2014 and he was instantly fascinated with the motorsport's growth. "I've always been impressed with how skilled and cool the pilots are and I think for anyone that has a pilot's licence this is the ultimate in terms of competition," said Coulthard. "What's really hit me here is to see how much the Air Race has grown. I have previously watched races in New York and Abu Dhabi and there are now many more pilots and differences in technology."
As Coulthard took to the hangars he was captivated by the different winglets and the use of sharkskin on certain raceplanes. "There is definitely a lot of carry over in terms of technology between the aerodynamics on aircraft and the aerodynamics they have on F1 cars," said the Scottish driver. "The wings on a raceplane are generating lift, our wings are generating down force, but they have same role. There are certain restrictions in the Air Race on sizes, but there is a freedom to design your own. Depending on the course you can set up your aircraft depending on what your expectation is. I'll be curious to see how it plays out in Qualifying," he added.
The aerodynamics in both sports isn't the only crossover. "It's great to be behind the scenes and see the pilots. I remember a little bit about the preparation before driving, but it's great to see how prepared and relaxed they are before they go flying," he said. "Talking with the pilots, the use of simulation before the run in the track is interesting, it's something that has been growing in F1 for years. When I was competing, it was just in its infancy and I think this is one area where aviation has been ahead of F1 in many respects, and the pilots are using that simulation technology to help them be better and more competitive."
When pushed on who he wanted to win, Coulthard wouldn't be drawn in on the matter, concluding: "I know one thing for sure, it won't be me. In competition, if you know the answer to who's going to win, what's the point in watching?"
You can follow all the action live right HERE as the pilots take to the skies for Qualifying at 16:00 CET.