x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Coulthard encourages future F1 stars

Q&A session with David Coulthard, the former Formula One driver, who will be talking about the forthcoming Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

ABU DHABI // Motor racing took the Formula One driver David Coulthard from a village in Scotland to countries all around the globe, and yesterday he encouraged a group of Emirati students to find a career that would allow them to do the same. "The world has so much to offer," said the 13-time Grand Prix winner, who was raised in Twynholm, near the English border. "If you get the opportunity to travel and to go and see other things and experience other cultures, even if it confirms that where you live is the best place, it's still great to get that opportunity."

He was one of several speakers at the Mastering Motorsport conference, designed to give students a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Formula One and encourage them to consider a career in motorsport. It continues today at Zayed University. Coulthard, who retired last season after 15 years in Formula One and has worked as a BBC commentator for F1, spoke to about 200 male and female students from several institutions.

"In this region, you have so much development," Coulthard said. "You are creating amazing opportunities for all of you for the future." He said a career in motorsport was not a job, but a lifestyle and "a great way to live". His question-and-answer session was part of an afternoon programme aimed at showing students what life was like as a motorsport journalist or television producer. In the morning, they learned about Formula One technology from the Ferrari test driver Mark Gene.

Dr Jeffrey Belnap, associate provost and director of Zayed University's Abu Dhabi campus, said the conference demonstrated to young Emiratis the significance of the UAE capital hosting a Grand Prix race. "It's important for students to understand this is a major initiative for the country so they are well-informed citizens," he said. "Students haven't necessarily been exposed to the various dimensions of the sport its technical dimension or its position on the world sporting map."

Louise Goodman, who spent more than a decade as a Formula One commentator for Britain's ITV network, told the students, "If you don't have a passion for the sport, this is not the career for you." At each Grand Prix event, she said, there would be about 50 television crews, 25 radio stations, 320 print or internet journalists and 120 photographers. "There are plenty of TV crews trying to get the same coverage as you," she said. "I would always try to be at the front of the queue to dive in with my questions first."

The conference concludes today with sessions on commercial and business sides of the sport. dbardsley@thenational.ae