Arriving in Abu Dhabi on October 7, 2009, David Coulthard, one of Formula One™’s most successful drivers, will present to a packed auditorium of excited university students for Mastering Motorsport - a series of talks from the motorsport’s top professionals. The Mastering Motorsport sessions are part of Yasalam’s series of Formula One™-related community events and activities.
Possibly the most important element for organisers of this new sport in Abu Dhabi is to educate and enthuse the local population about the huge opportunities F1™ will bring to the UAE. During the series of seminars, students will learn that the motorsport is a fully functioning commercial industry and, as with any industry, career opportunities follow. According to Coulthard there are certain attributes that will help aspiring motoring journalists progress. He says: “Knowledge, passion and a willingness to put ego to one side is key in this industry. Those who know more about F1™ and who follow it through genuine interest will always be at a distinct advantage.
With 246 Grand Prix starts under his belt, Coulthard is the fourth most experienced F1™ driver of all time and arguably the most successful British driver ever. He has an impressive tally of 13 race wins, which is relatively modest compared to other British drivers, such as Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell, but he has scored more points than any other UK driver with 535 and, by points, he is the fifth most successful driver of all time.
For most of his career, David Coulthard has been lucky enough to have the best machinery at his disposal. His race debut came in the saddest of circumstances, as he was chosen to replace Ayrton Senna when the Brazilian died in 1994. Coulthard then began racing for a Williams team that was entering a phase of true dominance.
After retiring from driving in 2008, David now works for the BBC as an F1™ commentator and also as a consultant for Red Bull Racing. It is in his capacity as a leading media figure on the sport that he will answer questions from Abu Dhabi students aspiring to carve out a career in the burgeoning media element of the motorsport.
According to Coulthard, he saw presenting as the perfect opportunity to experience another aspect of the motorsport, which has been his passion since he was a young child karting in Scotland.
He says: “After retiring I quickly seized the opportunity to work in another side of the sport whilst deciding on my long term future. So far it has largely been on the job training, after a day of briefings and a studio ‘walk-through’ of how the process works.
“The BBC provides support, such as media consultants who are there to help and advise me if and when needed. However, it is very much a case of just getting on with it. It is certainly good to hear experienced insights into the TV world from those with experience, such as how to stand, what to wear and where to look. These are particularly valuable lessons when starting off as a presenter.”
With an evolving multi-media landscape, Coulthard regularly contributes to various websites and blogs, which are relatively new to sports and allow more interactivity and information to keep F1™ fans constantly involved. “The way members of the public get their information and insight is increasing through web and interactive platforms. However, I truly believe whenever possible the public still prefer a story being told of events on the ground as they happen and, visually, TV is the best format for this,” he says.
When asked of his thoughts on F1™ coming to Abu Dhabi, he could not hide his excitement. “The new race in Abu Dhabi is great for the region but also fantastic for F1™ as the facilities will truly be state-of-the-art. We have already experienced the warm Gulf welcome and support in Bahrain and I’m sure Abu Dhabi will be just as impressive.
“The event will create a huge global media interest and is a perfect opportunity to showcase the region further. I’ve already travelled to Abu Dhabi this year with Red Bull for the Air Race, so I have experienced the city, weather and people first hand and thoroughly enjoyed my visit.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m a natural presenter, as my English isn’t perfect due to being Scottish,” he laughs. “But seriously, any student wanting to build a career in motorsport needs to get out on a track at a grass roots level and work themselves up through the ranks. Even if you do not make it as a driver, through this you learn from key people and build relationships which will get you access and content to really deliver what the public wants,” he says.
However, is not all glamorous for the ex-champion. During a typical race weekend his busy working schedule begins with research throughout Thursday and Friday ahead of his live appearances on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to his BBC work, he also makes various additional personal appearances. He also works for Red Bull on a consultancy basis and as a reserve driver, which means he attends all driver briefings
“I believe the biggest challenges of this job are remembering to remain impartial as a professional reporter and sometimes it’s important to maintain confidence, even after making a mistake,” he says. “I love the sport, which makes it easy to love the job. I was always a fan of F1 and for fifteen seasons I had one of the best seats in the house, so returning to the paddock is easy for me, even if I’m not racing. I even see the constant travelling as pleasurable and a good time to relax without the phone ringing,” he adds.
One of the most popular events on the sporting calendar and watched by millions on TV, F1Ô is ever-present on the back and sometimes front pages of newspapers throughout the globe. Millions of dollars are invested every year by sponsors and manufacturers, so communications teams play a vital role in helping teams maximise their investments throughout the season. Mercedes Motorsport will also offer an insight into their complex communications machine during the Mastering Motorsport sessions. As a local flavour, a well-known Gulf-based motorsport journalist will also be on hand to share what hosting an F1™ Grand Prix really means to the country.
David Coulthard currently lives in Monaco with his wife and son. He will appear at Zayed University on Wednesday October 7, 2009, as part of the two-day Mastering Motorsport seminars exclusively for a selection of local university students.
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