Coulthard: Verstappen wasting his time with mind games

David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Advisor / Channel 4 F1 Commentator with second placed Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in parc ferme.
© XPB 

Former F1 driver turned TV presenter David Coulthard has told Max Verstappen not to waste his time playing mind games trying to get into the head of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

This season has seen a marked rise in barbed comments back and forth between the two drivers and their respective teams designed to put the other party off-balance.

"This has felt a lot more political with lots more going on behind the scenes," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said this week.

Hamilton's former Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg has spoken of using 'mind games' to get the edge in the 2016 drivers title, but Coulthard doesn't think this will work for Verstappen.

“You don’t have to be surprised that these two drivers, of all people, are fighting for the title,” Coulthard told Speedweek this week. "I’m firmly convinced that will continue until the end of the season in Abu Dhabi.

"[But] I don’t think Verstappen can get into Lewis’ head," he insisted.

“They both have such strong teams behind them. They know they can win races at any time, and that creates an incredible amount of confidence.

“The two boys live their lives completely differently," he continued. "Lewis flew straight from Monza to New York and spent time at the Met Gala doing fashion [while] Max has spent his time privately in Monaco with the family.

They are so different. Max likes to keep to himself, Lewis is more extroverted. But when they’re on track it’s all about winning."

Coulthard admitted it was very different from his day in the sport. The 50-year-old Scot made his F1 debut for Williams in Spain 1994 in the traumatic aftermath of Ayrton Senna's fatal accident at Imola and went on to make 246 starts latterly with McLaren and Red Bull before retiring at the end of 2008.

“I felt a lot of pressure then, but these guys don’t,” Coulthard recalled. “They’re racing against the very best but they just make fewer mistakes than we did back then."

Coulthard's place alongside Damon Hill at Williams was later taken by Jacques Villeneuve who went on to claim the 1997 world championship and who is now himself a F1 pundit rarely short of opinions.

“Verstappen is superior,” the Canadian told Corriere della Sera this week when asked for his analysis of the Verstappen/Hamilton battle.

“He didn’t make any real mistakes," Villeneuve explained after the Russian GP. "He always went on the attack, Lewis instead showed weaknesses. And Mercedes as well, more than Red Bull.

“After Rosberg, [Lewis] had an easy life,” he suggested. “Maybe he fell asleep a bit, this year he woke up with a start. But he remains a phenomenon.”

Villeneuve also criticised the penalties that both drivers have received from race stewards following controversial clashes between the pair this season.

“There were no such penalties [in my day],” he said. "But it was different, we did the overtakes on the inside.

"Now they block you on the straight, they move, you’re forced to take extreme risks to pass and you can make mistakes," he noted. “In this way, it’s difficult to establish the rules.

Villeneuve said that Verstappen hadn't deserved a penalty for the accident that took both drivers out of the Italian Grand Prix. Nor did he feel Hamilton should have been punished for making contact with his rival at the start of the British GP.

“I don’t know, that was an unintentional manoeuvre as well,” he commented. “It was a mistake and it annoys me that mistakes are punished.

"Lewis usually doesn’t make these mistakes, it only happens to him with Max," he added. "These two don’t manage to stay within the limit.

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