David Coulthard believes that the momentum is firmly with Lewis Hamilton in his battle for the drivers’ Championship with Sebastian Vettel.
Speaking to IBTimes UK, the former McLaren, Williams, and Red Bull driver gave his thoughts on the race for the Championship, potential champions, and Kimi Raikkonen’s new one-year-deal with Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton has opened up a 28-point lead over Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers’ Championship, and Coulthard feels it should be enough to ensure a fourth victorious season for the Brit.
“Both are quality drivers, and this is the first time we’re really seeing them go head to head as their two cars are closer together than probably any other time in their careers.
“We’ll probably never see them head to head in the same car similar to Prost/Senna, because Vettel is signed to Ferrari for another 3 years and by the time that comes around who knows whether Hamilton will still be racing.
“I think the momentum has now switched to Hamilton and with that momentum on paper today he’s more likely to win the championship.”
As a former Red Bull driver, Coulthard gave his backing to the Austrian team as potential leaders going forward. Having enjoyed a period of success with Vettel, the drop-off in car quality has seen current driver Max Verstappen suggest he could leave in order to pursue the Championship.
“I think Red Bull are one of three or four teams that are capable of producing a world championship winning car,” said the Scot, “They clearly have some limitations and issues with Renault that they are trying to work through.”
Coulthard understood Verstappen’s worries, however, and listed the Dutchman as a future world champion alongside teammate Daniel Ricciardo and Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
“I undoubtedly, like others, think that Verstappen along with Ricciardo and Ocon and guys like that are all potential world champions if they get the right car, so it will be great to see Red Bull step up again to where they were in the past and really have a serious slot with Ferrari.”
With Ferrari surprising some with their offer of a one-year-contract to Kimi Raikkonen, Coulthard attempted to explain their thinking, backing the move and having faith that the Italian manufacturers knew the facts better than anyone.
“I personally think that although he’s still a quality racing driver, I don’t think Raikkonen’s really threatening Vettel, and maybe he’s not at the peak of his powers, but he has a good relationship with Sebastian and it works well within the team,” said Coulthard.
“In the end, Ferrari has all the information available to them, they know how he compares in actual facts rather than just what we see from a lap time and they know what their options are, and if Ferrari then decide that he’s their best option for another one-year deal, then really there’s no point for anyone else to speculate.”