Davie Coulthard aimed two rude hand gestures at Michael Schumacher at French GP

Michael Schumacher is a legend of Formula 1 and, in the opinion of many, the greatest driver of all time after racking up an incredible seven world titles.

However, it is fair to say he rubbed many of his counterparts up the wrong way with his aggressive tactics on track. The German icon had run-ins with numerous rivals over the years, including Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Schumacher and Coulthard had several bust-ups, both on and off track, with one of their most memorable coming at the French Grand Prix in 2000. Coulthard struggled to match Schumacher’s Ferrari and McLaren teammate Hakkinen during that era, but he was the man to beat that day at Magny-Cours.

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After starting second on the grid behind the Ferrari leader, the Scot was soon looking for a way past Schumacher, who was making his car very wide, blurring the line between hard but fair racing and rank dirty driving.

Coulthard was in no doubt his rival was guilty of the latter and let his feelings known during one failed attempt to muscle past at the circuit’s Adelaide Hairpin. The McLaren man was left so angry he aimed not one but two rude hand gestures towards Schumacher, with the w***** sign followed by the middle finger, an impressive display of multi-tasking in a complex car capable of doing more than 200mph.

“The first time I tried at the Adelaide Hairpin, he drove me wide on the exit,” recalled Coulthard in an interview with Autosport in 2012. “I was already frustrated about what he did at the start [Schumacher chopped aggressively across him off the line], so this made me really angry.”

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However, it wasn’t the first time he’d lost his rag with a rival on track. He even gave McLaren teammate Hakkinen the finger following an incident in 1996.

“It’s a weird thing: I’m not normally someone who gives people the finger or the w***** sign, both of which I then did to Michael,” he added. “But when Mika Hakkinen spun me around at Estoril in 1996, I never realised – until I saw photographic evidence – that I’d given my teammate the finger that day too.

“I think it shows that when I’m in that absolute zone, I have this subconscious fighting spirit. My conscious thought would have stopped me doing that because I’ve got quite a reserved personality. Straight after the race, I apologised for my hand gestures. I was back in the room.

“That anger had given me such a focus. When I did pass Michael a few laps later – we touched wheels a little bit – off I went and won the race. It felt like anything other than a win that weekend wouldn’t have been enough. Before the race started I knew I was going to win the grand prix.”

Coulthard regards that win as the best of his 13 grand prix victories.

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