David Coulthard is to step away from Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage for three races this year, Motorsport Broadcasting can confirm.
The Scotsman has been part of the UK’s F1 free-to-air offering since 2009, first with the BBC from 2009 to 2015, and more recently with Channel 4, attending every race since at least 1995 in either a racing or broadcasting capacity. Coulthard started his existing commentary role in 2011, joining Martin Brundle and Ben Edwards in the booth during that time.
However, Coulthard will not be part of Channel 4’s coverage of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as two additional races later in the season.
This site understands that Mark Webber will join Ben Edwards on commentary for Baku, with Steve Jones, Eddie Jordan and Lee McKenzie completing Channel 4’s on-air team. It is unknown if Webber will step into the box for the other two races that Coulthard is stepping aside for.
Coulthard follows in the footsteps of close friend and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle, who reduced his commitments with Sky last year to 18 races, and is again doing so this season.
Whilst disappointing to lose Coulthard for the three races, his decision to trim his F1 commitments is no doubt similar in reasoning to those elsewhere in the paddock, with the Grand Prix race schedule more demanding compared with yesteryear.
Outside of the F1 circle, Coulthard has other obligations within the motoring world and beyond, such as the new W Series, which gets underway in earnest the weekend after Baku.
Webber, who raced in Formula 1 from 2002 to 2013 with Red Bull and Jaguar, should be a great replacement for Coulthard. As part of Sky’s own shake-up last Autumn, the broadcaster was understood to have been interested in Webber, but no deal came to fruition.
He has commentated on F1 before for Australian broadcaster Ten Sports, most recently during their coverage of this year’s Australian Grand Prix, when he joined Tom Clarkson in the commentary box.
Azerbaijan will be Webber’s first solo commentary alongside Edwards in the Channel 4 booth, although he did join Edwards and Coulthard to comthe 2016 British Grand Prix.