Aside from his distinctive square jaw, former F1 racing star David Coulthard has not lost the athletic physique that made him one of the most recognisable drivers of his generation.
Known in his heyday for his smooth driving style, the now retired erstwhile Red Bull championship driver could be mistaken for someone who is still involved in competitive racing.
The 48-year-old parked his car 11 years ago, but Coulthard still possesses the trim figure that saw him roar to 13 victories and 62 podium finishes in a career spanning 14 seasons since he came to prominence with the Williams and McLaren teams in the early 1990s.
Dressed in navy blue jeans, an official Red Bull F1 shirt and black suede Puma sneakers, the Scotsman cut a laid-back figure at the popular energy drink’s public relations headquarters opposite the V&A Waterfront on Friday.
Coulthard is in the country for the Red Bull Cape Town Circuit, where he will take the F1 show car for a rev and a spin on a custom-made street track at the Grand Parade this afternoon.
“This is a race I think I can win – it’s only me there,” he said in jest at his one-on-one sessions with a selected group of local media personnel on Friday.
“This is a privilege for me, at my age, to have the chance to still experience a grand prix car with a world championship-winning team. It’s all about bringing the car to the people. There has been a good reaction.
“Within the space, I want to show a little bit of acceleration, the speed of the car and, of course, ‘doughnuts’ [the spinning] are always interesting for the younger generation to get the noise of the engine and a little bit of smoke.”
Coulthard said he hopes “young boys and girls who did not know what Formula One was will catch the bug and want to follow the sport or be competitors, mechanics or engineers in the future”.
“I’ve been so lucky in my journey to come from a small village to being a grand prix driver; to sit in front of all of you here, representing the team in Formula One. If I make that journey, somebody watching can make the same journey,” said the man who was born in Twynholm in Scotland.
Drawing comparisons between his time as a competitor and now in the sport, Coulthard said: “I love the evolution of cars getting faster and getting more challenging. And, as you gain experience, you become more of the voice of the car, talking to the designers and explaining what you need and what you think can make the car faster.”
He said drivers of today were special because they were “multinational and multicultural”.
“That’s what a modern-day Formula One team is. They’ve got skills and passion, and, most importantly, the work ethic because this is not a nine-to-five job.”
Today will be a rare occasion with Coulthard back in an F1 car’s driver’s seat.
He has not raced since his retirement.
“My love affair with racing is no longer there in terms of me wanting to race. But my love of racing is still there,” he said.
“I spend quite a lot of time standing around the car track watching my son go around. And it’s weird because I have no desire to go out and drive.”
As a parting shot, he said South Africa had the capacity to host an F1 race.
“I think, if the numbers are right in terms of the buy-in, there is no question. It can be economically a good thing for the community because you bring in international fans. Kyalami [racetrack in Midrand] is a great facility.
“I don’t think drivers will have a problem because it’s challenging – there will be elevation change and it’s got tricky turns.”
. Mothowagae is in Cape Town as a guest of Red Bull