David Coulthard raced F1 when it could be argued drivers meant more than cars. He won’t say that, so I am saying it. Put Coulthard in the best car today and he won’t often be out of a podium place.
F1 has advanced in the past five years, spectacularly so when it comes to technological improvements of the cars, but the F1 fan relates more to a driver than a car.
Coulthard was among that sort of driver. At least he was for me. Where Coulthard went, I went: Coulthard drove for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. Naturally I supported Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.
Coulthard’s maiden Grand Prix win in Estorill, Portugal in September 1995, will always be special. He took centre stage with Michael Schumacher (then with Benetton Renault) and teammate Damian Hill sharing the three-strong podium. There would be bigger occasions and bigger prizes but nothing quite beats the first one, especially when Schumacher is the supporting act.
Coulthard is in Cape Town on Sunday to celebrate DHL and Red Bulls first ever joint effort to reconnect South African F1 fans to the car, the driver and the sport. DHL is F1’s logistics partner and the headline sponsor to the Stormers rugby team, whose players earlier this week at Newlands got close up with Red Bull’s F1 car.
That was a marketing exercise but Sunday’s circuit race in Cape Town is about giving South Africans a taste of what it would be like to experience F1 again on more than a television screen.
The last F1 to be hosted in South Africa was in 1993 at the famed Kyalami track in Gauteng.
Coulthard, in an exclusive interview with Independent Media, spoke with reverence of Kyalami. It’s the track he wants to see back on the F1 global circuit.
But he wouldn’t mind a street Cape Town extravaganza as an alternative.
‘I love Kyalami,’ Coulthard told Independent Media’s Pritesh Ruthun at the recent Monaco Grand Prix. ‘But street circuits are really exciting. You know, you get the buzz of the city, you get the intimacy that fans enjoy and you are challenged as a driver and as a team. Historically, Kyalami is very special for F1. Whether it happens or not I don’t know, but what I do know is that I really want to see F1 racing return to Africa.’
Coulthard’s relationship with Red Bull and Red Bull’s partnership with Stormers sponsor DHL, has allowed for a super Sunday in the mother city when one of F1’s most celebrated drivers showcases his skills.
‘I still have a wonderful relationship with Red Bull Racing and over the past 10 years I’ve had the opportunity to take the team’s show cars to some fantastic places around the world. Jumping back into the F1 car is amazing, as it allows me to be reminded of the complexities and technologies in the sport, but more importantly this is a wonderful opportunity for me to play a small part in bringing the race back to the people, and children in particular, of South Africa … a country (as I have already mentioned) that hasn’t hosted a Grand Prix since 1993.’
* Race day starts at 1pm from Cape Town’s Grand Parade. Access is free, except for Grand Stand ticket, and the warm-ups begin from 10am. For all the race information on the Red Bull Cape Town Circuit 2019, visit http://www.redbullcapetowncircuit.com
* Mark Keohane is the Head of Independent Media Sport and Motoring
Sidebar boxes to add to design element
Coulthard’s five fast facts
1. Spa in Belgium is one of his favourites as a high-speed roller-coaster.
2. He rates Canada. Australia and Singapore as the cities that most come alive with the lifestyle of F1.
3. The coolest street circuit is Monaco.
4. The first championship Red Bull F1 car is the one he would have most loved to have driven.
5. The drivers who most inspired him were Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and the late and great Ayrton Senna.
Did you know...
David Coulthard won 13 Grand Prix races, finished in the top three 62 times, claimed 12 pole positions and 18 fastest laps in an F1 career that started in 1994 and ended in 2008.