This is one of the most brutally honest stories in existence, in this writer’s honest opinion.
David Coulthard is the most successful British driver in the history of Formula 1, amassing 13 Grand Prix victories from 247 races, albeit 246 starts (he did not start the 2005 US Grand Prix, as did no other Michelin-shod runner), over 60 podiums and 500 championship points. By winning the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix twice, there is no denying his talent and success not just there, but across his whole career.
David is the man who got his start in Formula 1 as a direct result of the tragedies of the death of Ayrton Senna and the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Following Senna’s accident and the car being rebuilt, David was the first man to drive it and describes it as being notably twitchy. David describes his feelings at having driven the very car his team-mate died in as being fairly non-existent, that he felt no hesitation or superstition, and was merely doing his job, therefore, he must simply get in the car and race it like any other day. Some may call that insensitive. Some may call it nerves of steel. David says “It Is What It Is”. This phrase appears frequently in the book to round out a story once David has expressed his thoughts on it.
This book can be an uncomfortable read as, at times, it sometimes sounds like David is writing it with two guns being held to his head. Through the book, David frequently makes statements before rambling on, justifying why he just said what he said. As he describes his racing days, through karting, F3, F3000, through F1, he takes no prisoners, candidly discussing his feelings about life inside Formula 1. Making some very bold statements at times, David walks a fine line between expressing an opinion and outright slander. Describing Juan-Pablo Montoya as being “chubby” and “full of shit” are among the best, or worst, however you wish to view it.
Topics covered include almost getting into a fistfight with Damon Hill during the Williams years of 1994 and 1995, to feelings of blatant favouritism being shown toward his team-mate Mika Häkkinen during the McLaren years and examples to back up those claims, to racing, and from time to time, beating, Michael Schumacher. Others intriguing tales include surviving that plane crash in 2000 where his two pilots did not, to his thoughts on the McLaren Spy-Gate scandal of 2007, the media, paparazzi and all aspects of being a “celebrity” or public figure in general, the future stars of Formula 1, the lusts and loves of his life, and perhaps most entertaining of all, his personal life including sexual exploits. A special section is dedicated to his current long-term partner Karen Minier, whom he plans to marry one day.
While honesty is an admirable quality, sometimes, and especially in a sport so obsessed with appearances as Formula 1, honesty can be a mixed blessing. It seems difficult to believe that David Coulthard has not burnt a few bridges with some of the comments in this book, although I doubt with some that he really cares.
All in all, It Is What It Is – a powerful read, well written in parts with a lot of passion, lacking direction and structure in others – certainly paints an interesting picture into a unique character who has experienced the glittering highs and the painful lows that is the life of a Formula 1 personality.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award It Is What It Is: The Autobiography…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5.
It Is What It Is is available via selected motorsport retailers and Amazon. The book review was written by Richard’s F1’s IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon.
[Original images via LAT]