David Coulthard has rubbished claims the race to be crowned Formula One world champion is over – believing Red Bull are benefitting from the rub of the green.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen sits 46 points clear of teammate Sergio Perez with 175 points, but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is only three behind the Mexican as the next closest challenger.
Verstappen has won the previous two races in Azerbaijan and Canada as Ferrari have struggled with reliability issues – but 13-time Grand Prix winner Coulthard is not willing to hand the Championship to the Dutch driver just yet.
The Scot, 51, said: “Anyone saying that it is over hasn’t been watching Formula One long enough – things change so quickly.
“If you look at the swing, it was more than a 40-point swing from Max being behind Charles and Charles looking incredible to then Ferrari strategically making a couple of mistakes – reliability has cost them some points.
“Beyond that, I think that Charles has been flawless this year and I think that in Carlos Sainz he has a very fast teammate.
“It can change and reliability will be something that Red Bull have to face during the course of the year – they did in the first couple of races – so it’s way too early to call.”
Coulthard was speaking at the launch of >= More Than Equal, an initiative he has co-founded with Czech businessman Karel Komarek to find and develop the first female Formula One world champion.
No woman has started a Formula One race since 1976 and >= More Than Equal are looking to build a global network of scouts to find the best racing talent among girls.
Their recruits will then be supported by leading coaching company Hinsta Performance as well as experts in sponsorship and motorsport to ensure they have equal opportunity as boys to reach the top of motorsport.
And Coulthard believes that the predominantly male Formula One paddock will get behind the initiative.
He added: “Anything that further enhances the sport people are supportive of because the paddock has always been open.
“I’ve competed against women in motorsports, I’ve been beaten by women in motorsport, and occasionally I’ve managed to beat them.
“But when the helmet goes on, we’re all just racers. But we need more of those racers when the helmet comes off to be women.”
Coulthard also spoke out against the “completely inappropriate” racist comments made by former world champion Nelson Piquet about Lewis Hamilton that surfaced this week.
Hamilton has struggled for form this year, but fellow Brit Coulthard is backing the seven-time champion to improve at his home race.
“I think the podium in Canada was a welcome return for Lewis, we’ve all missed the Lewis of old,” Coulthard said.
“It is, I think, still probably a hangover from the disappointment of Abu Dhabi last year and a very short offseason.
“Clearly, Mercedes haven’t managed to unlock the potential of their car in the same way Ferrari and Red Bull have.
“In many ways, he’s under a very different pressure to his teammate, George Russell…Lewis is a seven-time world champion, his vision is more about ‘how do we make this a winning car?’
“And therefore, finishing third or fourth or fifth is nice, but it’s not what he’s about. He’s about competing for victories. And I believe in his unbelievable talent, and I’m sure he will be back.
“It will be really great to see a Mercedes on the podium this weekend. It remains to be seen whether they can, with the upgrades, actually compete.
“History would suggest probably not quite now. But I just love the Hollywood of Formula One, so I’m going for three different manufacturers on the podium.”
More information about the initiative is available on the website www.MoreThanEqual.com and updates will also be available on the Instagram profile @more.thanequal