Friday favourite: the Vauxhall Lotus double act that spawned a 30-year friendship

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Three front-runners come to the fore when TUSEN asks two-time CART Indycar champion Gil de Ferran for his favorite teammate before the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner chooses a driver he only raced with for one season in 1990.

Their careers may have taken different directions, but de Ferran and David Coulthard have been close friends since they raced together for Paul Stewart Racing in Formula Vauxhall Lotus, and even went on holiday together last year.

De Ferran had arrived at PSR after an impressive season in Formula Ford in 1989 with the factory Stormvogel Reynard team, while the less experienced Coulthard had won the P&O Ferries FF1600 Junior title in his first motor racing season and earned the inaugural McLaren TUSEN BRDC Award .

The pair, 22 (De Ferran) and 19 (Coulthard) respectively, got on well and often shared accommodation at 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 the Opel Lotus Euroseries with the same cars – although unlike fifth-placed Coulthard (injured on one leg). crash at Spa) he did not win a race.

“I had a huge amount of respect for him, we loved each other as people and to this day we have a very close and friendly relationship,” de Ferran says of Coulthard, who made 246 Grand Prix starts in a 15-year-old Formula 1 career that brought 13 victories. “It is no surprise to me that David has achieved what he has achieved, a huge amount.

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“It goes beyond what happened on the track in 1990. It’s because we’re good friends to this day and that has to mean something.”

However, it didn’t end brilliantly. As Coulthard related in his autobiography, during the first continental round of the Opel Lotus Euroseries at Zolder – which did not count for points – “I ran into him, slashed his tires and the resulting puncture put him out of the race. Meanwhile, my car was relatively untouched and I finished on the podium. I remember him hanging over the pit wall giving me the wanker sign and the V’s he was so angry. We had to share a car all the way back home to Milton Keynes, and he didn’t say a single word to me the entire journey!

Coulthard and de Ferran almost did not get along as teammates, but their relationship later reconciled

Photo by: Motorsport Images

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De Ferran confirms: “At the end of the first lap I was in front of him, going into the chicane he was completely stuck and hit me on the left rear tire and we had a puncture and that was the end of it. I think the suspension too. Man I was angry! But that anger didn’t last long.”

But De Ferran could not hold a grudge against Coulthard because “it could have been on the other side, I might as well have done the same.” Coulthard was named as godparent to De Ferran’s daughter Anna, even attending the penultimate race of De Ferran’s open wheel career at Fontana in 2003.

That marked the end of four successful years with Team Penske – winning the CART Indycar titles in 2000 and 2001 – alongside Helio Castroneves, who was certainly no laughing matter. He earned two of his four Indy 500 wins in the same gear as de Ferran in 2001 and 2002.

“Simon [Pagenaud], its success speaks for itself. It was a really interesting experience sharing a car with him and honestly learning certain things from him and working with each other.” Gil deFerran

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

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After a stint in F1 as sporting director at Honda, De Ferran enjoyed a two-year racing comeback with his own De Ferran Motorsports team in the 2008 American Le Mans Series. Sharing with another future Indy 500 winner in Simon Pagenaud, he entered the LMP2 division with Acura that year and moved to LMP1 with the brand the following season, capping his comeback with a win at Laguna Seca with a white livery in honor of his first IndyCar team principal Jim Hall.

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“I’m glad I experienced car sharing in sports cars – I really enjoyed it,” he says. “Simon, his success speaks for itself – he’s won a lot of things since then. It was a really interesting experience sharing a car with him and honestly learning certain things from him and working with each other.

“It was very interesting to talk about the car, about the driving, our techniques in certain corners and so on.”

De Ferran also rated Pagenaud highly as a teammate

De Ferran also rated Pagenaud highly as a teammate

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt/Motorsport Images

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