David Coulthard Speaks Racing, Fatherhood And Fitness At 48
Moments before our interview begins, David Coulthard is checking his phone. His 10-year-old son Dayton is racing and he wants to stay updated. “It’s definitely getting more challenging now,” he says.
“When I retired I still had this drive and energy and desire, you’ve got the opportunity to work in television and that then became a catalyst to still be on the world tour, and out of that I started a production business. That was nine years ago and we’re the biggest growing production business in the UK, and I’ve started an events company over the last few years.”
He’s learnt a lot since his retirement in 2008 – making his mark as a presenter, commentator and journalist. One thing’s for sure: when David does something, he does it incredibly well. But at 48 years old he’s got some big decisions to make on how he manages his time.
“I’m just feeling I’m at that point now [where I have to make decisions]. Just looking at my son, he was away on a little school trip over the Grand Prix season for four days. [And I was busy] before coming to South Africa. So I only saw him briefly for a couple hours before flying out; he was clingy and he was holding my hand – which under normal conditions he wouldn’t do, ‘because I’m not gonna hold daddy’s hand!’
“That tells they know you’re going to be away. And any father will know, that’s something that you think about – am I getting the balance right? Selfishly, I’m having a great time because I’m working, travelling, what have you…
“But I’ve got some decisions to make because before you know it he’s gonna be shaving and asking me what the hell I know about… anything! And heading off into his own journey.”
“When I look back at my professional career, if I had missed a gym session for whatever reason, then psychologically that would nibble away at you.”
A decision David has already made is to change the way he keeps fit and he prefers to spend his time outside the gym; cycling or swimming. “I don’t stress the training first of all. I think when I look back at my professional career, if I had missed a session for whatever reason, then psychologically that would nibble away at you. And I think that’s actually unhealthy in a way. I don’t have to be fit for anything other than life now, so I go cycling as often as I can.”
As every man in his 40s and especially so for pro athletes, David feared the go-to Dad bod after retirement. “I was curious when I stopped whether I’d do the old parachute – pull the rip cord and then suddenly end up a big lump, but so far, I’ve put on a few kilos but nothing I can’t hide away,” he jokes.
“I travel with swimmers so if there’s a pool, I jump in and have a swim. But otherwise, I don’t go to the gym, my days of lifting weights or doing anything are behind me. If you see me in the gym it’s because I am stealing the water, the apples and stuff.”
His wit is almost as fast as his driving. “And of course, your body changes as you get older, I’ve got the man-boobs when I walk down the stairs now, I can feel them move!” Luckily for him, there’s no sweet tooth to set him off track, and his diet has been his saving grace.
“I’m reasonably sensible when it comes to diet. I’ve always really enjoyed the healthier options. I had a caesar salad earlier and I had the salad dressing and I’m eating and thinking, when I was racing I wouldn’t have dressing. I just didn’t eat the calories just purely for taste – I was always wanting the calories for growth, strength and maintenance.
David just wants to stay ‘relatively slim’, he says—but his body still shows the shape of a pro-racer — and his intuition, skill and enjoyment behind the steering wheel has gone unchanged. This was seen as the Scotsman did doughnuts in the championship-winning RB7 F1 car throughout the streets of Cape Town on Sunday.
And although David’s love for sharing the sport has grown, his love affair with racing has changed. “I think it’s a fantastic journey of life – learning about yourself. I never imagined when I was younger, not racing. And in 2008 I felt completely comfortable stopping – because I had reached a point where the love affair was over—I still had love—but the passion; I’d grown out of it.”
We’re in dreamland now, discussing a super race of the F1 Gods.
Nowadays, he prefers to watch the new greats of the sport, saying the current generation that include showstoppers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are even better than himself, Senna, Schumacher and the like. “I think every generation should be better, I want these guys to be better. They are better – than certainly I was and I think Michael or Ayrton. I think if they were just locked into their period of experience and shipped into racing against Lewis and Max, I think they would struggle.”
We’re in dreamland now, discussing a super race of the F1 Gods. “They wouldn’t struggle by much, but you know what I mean…. Put them all at the same age at the same peak of their powers, with the same knowledge then I think Fangio, Jackie Stewart, you know – whoever your favourite world champion – would all be as quick as each other and you’ll have your super race.”
“But I think [this generation] learns quicker, you know Max came in at 17! My step daughter is 21, sometimes to leave her to feed the goldfish is a big decision – whether she’ll be able to remember to do it,” he jokes. “But I think the sport won’t make you more mature in life but it makes you more mature as an individual in taking responsibility, in having ownership. They’re young in years but they’re rich in experience and as I said – the next generation should be better!
And as our time comes to an end, the dad in David leaves us with some fatherly advice. “Whoever wants your kids to be worse than you? You want them to be better equipped. More able to handle pressure and make decisions than you. And I think the world as it evolves, that becomes ever more important.”