Official: David Coulthard will leave F1 at season's end

Click above for a stunning high-res gallery of D.C.'s 2008 highlights.

The end of an era. That's what we called it when rumors began intensifying just a couple of days ago that David Coulthard might retire from Formula One racing. Those rumors were confirmed today – at the Silverstone track, one day before the start of his home race – when the elder statesman of grand prix racing announced his retirement.

To get an idea of just how long Coulthard has been racing, remember that his first race was to fill the late Ayrton Senna's seat at Williams after the famed Brazilian's fatal crash 14 years ago. Since that fateful start, Coulthard has competed in 236 grands prix to date, winning 13 of them, taking pole position 12 times and setting the fastest lap 18 times. DC spent nine seasons with McLaren, and was instrumental in brokering the purchase of the defunct Jaguar team from Ford by Red Bull, with whom he has raced for the past few seasons, scoring the team's first point and first podium. This weekend's British Grand Prix will be David's last home race, having won the event twice in his career.

So what's next for the flying Scotsman? For starters, he will remain as a consultant to Red Bull Racing, pitching in for development driving, much like his contemporaries Schumacher and Hakkinen still do for Ferrari and McLaren respectively. Despite earlier assertions, however, Coulthard says he will remain open-minded about racing in other leagues, and we could very well see him back in the race seat for the Race of Champions at London's Wembley Stadium in December, however it remains to be seen if Coulthard will try his hand at Le Mans, DTM or some other form of motor racing or rallying. Meanwhile, the vacation of his seat at Red Bull leaves the door open for Sebastian Vettel's promotion from the Toro Rosso B-squad, so sit tight for that announcement. In the meantime we wish David all the best of luck for the remainder of his last season and for life after F1. Follow the jump to read David Coulthard's official statement.

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[Source: Formula 1]

David Coulthard's statement in full:

I would like to announce today my decision to retire from racing in Formula One at the end of this season. I will remain actively involved in the sport as a consultant to Red Bull Racing focusing on testing and development of the cars. I have an open mind as to whether or not I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motorsport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet!

My decision to retire was taken earlier in the year and is based on a desire to stop while I am still competitive and enjoying the immense challenge that Grand Prix driving represents. I also have the desire to look for new challenges within the sport. The decision to make this announcement at the British GP should be an obvious one for all to understand, as I have achieved two of my thirteen F1 victories at Silverstone and I am a member of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which hosts this event.

I am proud of my work at Red Bull Racing and will continue to race with the same focus until the last lap in Brazil. Thereafter I will continue to help the team develop and move towards their ultimate goal of winning races.

There are many people who have played a part in my career and I would like to list a few of them below;

- My parents whose energy and encouragement through my entire career has been amazing

- Dave Boyce who guided me through Karting

- David Leslie Senior and Junior for teaching me how to set up and race a car

- Sir Jackie and Paul Stewart for putting me through their 'staircase of talent'

- Sir Frank Williams and Williams Renault for having the faith to promote me from test driver to race driver, which lead to my first GP victory

- Ron Dennis and the McLaren team where I spent nine seasons and achieved the majority of my success.

- Norbert Haug and Mercedes for being racers through and through

- Dietrich Mateschitz and his Red Bull Racing team for providing me with the chance to contribute to the development of a new team, while continuing to compete and add to my tally of podiums

- Christian Horner for his open and professional management style in association with Helmut Marko

- Bernie Ecclestone for providing such a strong platform for us all to develop our skills and be able to call ourselves professionals. In years to come, my future family will still be thanking him for the financial success of F1

- My management team of Martin Brundle and David Cawthorne in association with Annette Hutchinson and Iain Cunningham for providing their valued opinions.

- There have been three teams but only one designer, so Adrian Newey deserves special thanks for all the champagne that I have sprayed

- And last but not least, all the media, officials, marshals, medical support, mechanics, engineers, sponsors, lawyers, accountants and back room staff that I have worked with during this period.

Silverstone 2008

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