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Friday’s favourite: the Vauxhall Lotus double act that spawned a friendship that lasted 30 years

Friday’s favourite: the Vauxhall Lotus double act that spawned a friendship that lasted 30 years

Three racers come to the fore when Autosport asks two-time CART Indycar Champion Gil de Ferran for his favorite teammate, before the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner picks a driver he spent but one season racing side by side in 1990.

Their careers may have gone in different directions, but de Ferran and David Coulthard have been firm friends since they drove together in Paul Stewart Racing’s Formula Vauxhall Lotus and even holidayed together last year.

De Ferran arrived at PSR after a stellar 1989 season in Formula Ford with Fulmar Reynard’s works team, while the less experienced Coulthard won the P&O Ferries FF1600 Junior title in his first season of motor racing and took the inaugural McLaren Autosport BRDC trophy.

At the age of 22 (de Ferran) and 19 (Coulthard) respectively, the pair have famously gotten along and often share lodgings at the races. De Ferran finished the 1990 campaign second in the British Championship, won by Vincenzo Sospiri for David Sears Motorsport (Coulthard was fourth), and third in an Opel Lotus Euroserie using the same cars – although unlike fifth-placed Coulthard (he injured his leg- (breaking a crash at Spa) did not win the race.

de Ferran says of Coulthard, who racked up 246 Grand Prix starts in a 15-year career with 13 wins. “It’s no surprise to me that David has achieved what he’s got, an enormous amount.

“It goes beyond what happened on the racetrack in 1990. Because to this day we are great friends and that must mean something.”

But things did not go smoothly. As Coulthard recounts in his autobiography, in the first continental round of the Opel Lotus Euroseries at Zolder – which did not count for points – “I ran into his back, slashed his tires and the puncture stopped him. In the meantime my car was relatively unscathed and I went on to finish on the podium. I remember him hanging over the stage wall giving me a wanker and a V, he was so angry. We had to share a car all the way home to Milton Keynes, and he didn’t say a word to me the whole trip!”

Coulthard and de Ferran almost did not make it as teammates, but their relationship later reconciled

Photo by: Motorsports Pictures

De Ferran confirms: “At the end of the first lap I was in front of him so I went into the tarmac he was all locked up and hit me on the left rear tire and we had a puncture and that was the end of it, he bent I think so was the suspension. “.

But de Ferran could not hold a grudge against Coulthard because “it would have been on the other side, it would have been easy for me to have done the same.” Coulthard was named as godfather to de Ferran’s daughter, Anna, and was even present at the penultimate race of de Ferran’s open-wheel career at Fontana in 2003.

That brought down the curtain on four successful years at Team Penske – yielding the 2000 and 2001 CART Indycar titles – along with Hélio Castroneves, which certainly wasn’t easy. He claimed two out of four Indy 500 wins in the same equipment as de Ferran in 2001 and 2002.

Simon [Pagenaud]His success speaks for itself. It was a really fun experience sharing the car with him and honestly learning certain things from him and working with each other.” Gil de Ferran

“I was at the end of my career and he was at the beginning of his,” de Ferran says of his Brazilian teammate, who is eight years his junior. “I’ve always had good relationships – in fact, I don’t actually remember having a bad relationship with my teammates.”

After a stint in Formula 1 as Honda’s sporting director, De Ferran enjoyed a two-year racing comeback with his De Ferran Motorsports team in the 2008 American Le Mans Series. Partnered with another future Indy 500 winner in Simon Pagenaud, he was a winner in that He spent the year in the LMP2 division with Acura and moved the brand up to LMP1 the following season, signing his comeback with a win at Laguna Seca using a white livery to honor his first IndyCar team boss Jim Hall.

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“I’m glad I got to try sports car sharing—I really enjoyed it,” he says. Simon, his success speaks for itself – he’s won a lot of things since then. It’s been a really fun experience sharing the car with him and honestly learning certain things from him and working with each other.

“It was so much fun exchanging opinions about the car, the driving, our technology on some corners, etc.”

De Ferran also rated Pagenaud highly as a teammate

De Ferran also rated Pagenaud highly as a teammate

Photography: Michael L. Levitt/Sports Pictures


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