David Coulthard has explained why he has acquired a reputation for always being on Sebastian Vettel’s back.
The Scot has even been challenged by Vettel’s press officer, Britta Roeske, as to why he is critical of the four-time former World Champion.
That came after the German’s debut for the Silverstone-based team, whom he joined for 2021 after being released by Ferrari, had gone badly at the Bahrain Grand Prix, incurring penalties in both qualifying and the race, in which he finished 15th.
Since then, Vettel has crossed the line as runner-up twice, although he lost one of those second places, in Hungary, due to a fuel sample issue.
The 32-year-old sits 12th in the Drivers’ World Championship standings during a season in which his support for environmental and sustainability causes has attracted a similar number of headlines to his driving exploits.
In a video interview with Austrian media outlet Kronen Zeitung, Coulthard hinted he would rather Vettel focus on his racing – and defended being “not nice” about the man who replaced him at Red Bull in 2009 and won the first of his four titles the year after.
“Seb’s record is exceptional. In the first part of his career he was winning World Championships on merit, on speed,” began the 50-year-old.
“Seb has looked not the same during Ferrari, during his time at Aston.
“He’s never spoken to me about it. But Britta, his press officer, has, a couple of times because I knew her from Red Bull, come to me and said ‘you’re not nice to Sebastian’ and I’m like ‘well, Britta, what are you seeing that I’m not seeing?’
“I just say what I see and he was behind his team-mate at Ferrari and he’s there or thereabouts with his team-mate at Aston.
“When he was winning, I was going ‘wow, this is incredible, this guy’s a winning machine’. When he’s losing, I go ‘well, that’s disappointing’.
“I get a little bit confused. I get it, because I’ve been a grand prix driver, that people don’t mind when you say positive things and people [do] mind when you say something that’s less positive.
“I don’t really know what to say about Sebastian. He’s racing in Formula 1. Off track, he’s telling us all to pick up litter and ride a bicycle. I don’t need Sebastian to tell me to pick up litter and ride a bicycle – I do both!”
Planet F1 verdict