Max Verstappen makes subtle dig at Lewis Hamilton in April
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Max Verstappen and Red Bull look to be on course for a second straight Formula 1 world championship, but there’s still time for a few more twists in the tale. And Mercedes may have a bigger say in the title race than many might have expected this time two months ago.
At least former McLaren mainstay David Coulthard believes so following Lewis Hamilton’s fight back to form in recent weeks. The seven-time world champion went seven races without a podium but has now placed third or better in his past five outings, including back-to-back runner-up finishes to Verstappen in the last two.
Hamilton, 37, remains sixth in the standings and almost certainly has no chance at fighting for the title himself. However, it’s possible the Silver Arrows could help distract Red Bull and inadvertently aid Ferrari in the end-of-season push, with Hamilton and George Russell battling Verstappen more on track with Mercedes now on the up.
“I think it’s been a great season so far,” Coulthard—who spent the final four seasons of his F1 career at Red Bull—told Dutch website RacingNews365. “Ferrari have had probably the quicker qualifying car but Red Bull have had more reliability and faster race car.
“This championship looked like it was going to be nip and tuck after the first few races. But of course Max has now opened up a big lead. But it’s not over of course until it’s technically over.
“There will be a lot of intrigue I’m sure in the remaining second half of the season. Mercedes look like they’re coming back as well.”
Reliability and strategy have become the two major talking points at Maranello, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz experiencing technical setbacks. Team principal Mattia Binotto has also come under fire for his choice of tactics, most recently in regards to tyre choice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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Bearing all that in mind, the Prancing Horse could use all the help it can get in returning to the confidence levels seen earlier this season. Hamilton and the rest of his Mercedes cohorts may even prefer to see Ferrari top the table, rather than Red Bull and Verstappen clinching a second straight crown.
George Russell has consistently impressed during his maiden year at Mercedes, but the revival of Hamilton is a particularly interesting development. The veteran is still waiting on his first win of the season and will hope to end the drought when the season resumes in Belgium on August 28.
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