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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Shane Brennan

If what happened to Lewis happened to me I would still be complaining – David Coulthard praises Hamilton’s mentality

"Most drivers are bloody boring to be honest" - David Coulthard. Photo: INPHO

David Coulthard has expressed his admiration for how Lewis Hamilton handled his 2021 title loss.

Controversy reigned after that season’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won his first Formula One World Drivers’ Championship at the expense of the Briton.

The dispute stems from a decision made during the final laps of the season finale, where only the cars between Verstappen and Hamilton were allowed to unlap themselves before the duo were allowed to race for a final lap. Hamilton was leading the race at the time, but ended up in second, costing him an eighth world title.

The controversy has been an underlying theme of commentary around the sport. Since then, race director Michael Masi has been replaced by the FIA, team bosses have been banned from speaking to the race director, and comments by Ted Kravitz on Sky Sports, where he said Hamilton was “robbed” of the title, led to Red Bull boycotting engagement with the media giant for last year’s Mexican Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Verstappen had a record-breaking season on his way to a second title in 2022, while Hamilton has not won another race.

But TV pundit Coulthard says he was impressed by how Hamilton handled the situation, and contrasted the 38-year-old’s mentality to his own.

“All of the greats have very different personalities. I would like to believe though, in my romantic motorsport heart, that there was enough competitive respect - even between feuding pairs like Prost and Senna - that there would not have been outcry,” Coulthard says.

“The way Lewis Hamilton reacted was fantastic. Maybe when he was younger it would have been difficult to do that, but he is now in his late thirties now, he has done a few laps and with age comes maturity.

“As you get older you start to understand the consequences and a sense of maturity helps you to deal with it. If it was me, I would have kicked off. I would still be complaining to this day.”

The former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull driver will be performing in Dublin this weekend as part of the Red Bull showrun, where the allure of seeing the RB7 - Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 Championship-winning car - has led to a complete sell-out.

And engaging with a new generation of fans is something he feels Formula One is doing well, and the Scot is keen to highlight the benefits of Netflix's series Drive to Survive, which returns for another season next month.

“Anything that is good for the biggest form of motorsport has to be good for all of motorsport.

“I do see an ongoing interest in this type of edited version of the reality of Formula One, which some drivers spoke about and were not entirely happy about. But the reality is if it was not done like that it would not be nearly as interesting. If you are not trying to do anything illegal or re-write history then it is good. If it makes you seem more interesting than you are, it's positive, because most drivers are bloody boring to be honest.”

While was in conversation with Coulthard, news broke of James Vowles’ appointment as Team Principal of Williams, one of Coulthard’s former teams. And the 51-year-old sees the sense in the move for the highly-regarded Mercedes strategy director.

“James Vowles becoming Team Principal is a great opportunity for Williams, and it is a logical progression for James. His career has been a part of BAR, Brawn and then Mercedes’ journey so I wish him all the best.

“With the name and legacy built by Frank Williams there it would be nice to imagine that they can under his leadership start putting the pieces back together. It sounds simple, but if you bring the right brainpower together you can be competitive.”

Coulthard’s performance in Dublin is the first in Ireland since he showcased a Red Bull machine on the streets of Belfast in 2018, and he feels glad to be back.

“I am normally not in town as early for these events as I am in Dublin, that’s how excited I am. I love coming to Dublin, I have great friends here. I have been out getting a nice breeze in my lungs already.

“It’s an opportunity for me to connect with race fans in Ireland and to get back into a Formula One car, which is always great to be doing at 51. It helps me with my role on television because it is very easy to forget how adrenaline-fuelled it is when driving a Grand Prix car, even if it’s of an earlier generation.

“Having met a few celebrity friends over the years, quite a few of the Irish ones have been trying to get tickets off me! I might have to give up my seat in the car. But look, it's Bono!”

He will be performing alongside Cork drifter Conor Shanahan and world champion stunt motorcyclist Mike Jensen, and the Danish rider is glad to find a following for his sport in Ireland.

“Stunt motorcycling is quite small, an underground sport,” he says.

“But in Ireland the scene is pretty big. My Instagram is flooded with messages from local guys wanting to have a session, so that’s a special feeling to come here and connect on something you have a passion for.”

“Any motorsport when you are pushing the limit you are going to face some fear at some point, and in training I try to do things that are on the edge.”

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