He jokes he might have to turn his cap backwards to fit in with his younger teammates, but Supercars star Mark Winterbottom has scoffed at the suggestion age is catching up with him.
The 36-year-old heads into his 12th season as a full-time driver at this weekend’s season-opening Adelaide 500 with his Tickford Racing stablemates Chaz Mostert (25), Cam Waters (23) and Richie Stanaway (26) all representing the sport’s generation next.
After struggling his way to sixth on the championship standings in a winless 2017, some have questioned if Winterbottom’s time at the front of the pack is coming to an end.
It’s a proposition the Ford driver believes is ridiculous.
“I won the championship two years ago. (Jamie) Whincup won it last year – he’s not 21,” Winterbottom told AAP.
“You’ve always had good teammates. It’s not like for the first time ever you’ve got someone good with you.
“They’re good drivers and good equipment. It’s no different. The day that I go to a training camp and I’m hanging off the back and can’t keep up with them, yeah, I’m too old but, at the moment, my fitness is bloody good and age isn’t slowing you down.”
Winterbottom says his 2017 campaign was one of those years where whatever could go wrong, did go wrong.
He can see no reason why he can’t get himself back in contention in 2018.
“It’s only early days but I feel a lot more comfortable at this point than last year,” he said.
“We were really struggling at this point of the year, rolling out, so I feel good and I kinda expect my name to be up there.
“But it is hard. It’s a hard sport.”