David Coulthard issues F1 warning as another year of Max Verstappen dominance looms

Michelle Foster

David Coulthard has warned F1 Max Verstappen's dominance could hurt it.

As Formula 1 gears up for another season of Max Verstappen’s dominance, one would be hard-pressed to suggest otherwise, David Coulthard has warned the sport that “familiarity breeds contempt”.

The 2023 Formula 1 World Championship will go down in the annals as the year of Max Verstappen.

Although he had previously won World titles, taking the crown off Lewis Hamilton in 2021 before adding a second the following season, last year he was in a class of his own.

Could F1 lose its “magic” if Max Verstappen continues to dominate?

The 26-year-old won 19 of the season’s 22 races, finished all but one on the podium, and wrapped up the Drivers’ title with six Grands Prix to spare.

Add in four Sprint race victories and nine fastest lap points, he finished the season on 575 points, more than double that scored by second-placed Sergio Perez.

The season was saved by the battle behind the Dutchman as momentum swung between Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren in a campaign in which 10 different drivers joined Verstappen on the podium.

However, should the reigning World Champion put together another 19-win season, Coulthard fears F1 could lose some of its “magic”.

“That expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’?” the 13-time Grand Prix winner said to the Telegraph. “If you adapt that to sport, the same thing goes.

“Too much success kind of takes away the magic.

“With sport, we look to be inspired, to grow, to move forward, and if one team is doing all that, then it doesn’t give enough hope for everybody.”

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Toto Wolff, though, is adamant Formula 1 is thriving even in the midst of Verstappen’s dominance.

Conceding there is a “risk” of people declaring they know the result as they did when Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dominated, he says 2023’s spectator numbers at Grands Prix as well as growing social media stats suggest fans are still very interested.

It’s now up to Red Bull’s rivals to close the gap.

“The numbers that we’re seeing, they are strong,” he said as per Motorsport.com. “We are growing on social, we see races that are packed and sold out.

“As a matter of fact, it is all around the spectacle. If the spectacle is not good our fans are going to follow us less.

“But I think what I always say in the sport, I like the honesty. The spectacle follows the sport. And the sport, this is a meritocracy. Whoever is doing the best job wins.

“And if somebody is doing a much better job than everybody else, then they are winning 19 races.

“And you can’t stop that as a matter of fact, so it is us and Ferrari and all the other teams that have to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull Racing, and we can’t change anything.

“Of course there is the risk that with a certain lag, people are going to say, ‘Well, I know the result anyway,’ like it happened to us with Lewis [Hamilton] for many years.

“But we have just got to do a better job. And I don’t want to wait until 2026.”

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