Max Verstappen may be on track for a record-breaking season, but it’s Lando Norris who David Coulthard has picked as the driver putting in performances that Formula 1 will remember.
Little did anyone know at the start of this season that Formula 1 2023 would be the Max Verstappen show, the Red Bull driver romping from one victory to another as he storms unchallenged toward a third World title.
Arriving at Monza, he sits on 11 Grand Prix wins for the season, which includes a run of nine on the trot with the Dutchman going for a record-breaking 10th on Sunday.
David Coulthard backs Max Verstappen to ‘absolutely’ break records this season
Although Coulthard accepts it’s not guaranteed, the former F1 driver doesn’t believe any of Verstappen’s rivals can make a big enough leap in the days between Zandvoort and Monza to halt his charge.
“Yeah absolutely, he’s got an unbelievable potential to do that,” the 13-time Grand Prix winner told On Track GP when asked about Verstappen breaking Sebastian Vettel’s record for the most wins in a row.
“But as you know, racing is racing and anything can happen.
“But it doesn’t look like the week between the races something major is going to change.”
Should the reigning World Champion secure the Italian Grand Prix win, Coulthard reckons only his teammate Sergio Perez regaining his lost confidence could put paid to Verstappen winning the remaining eight.
“Again, he can absolutely,” said Coulthard. “Now his teammate seems to be a little bit off the boil, that really accelerates his potential. But for Checo, he is obviously certain to rediscover his mojo, for whatever reason he’s kind of struggled recently.
“But what I find fascinating this year, although Max has been all dominantly winning the championship, there’s been a lot of races where it’s been incredibly close in terms of lap time.
“But where he’s really good, of course, is just consistently getting out of trouble.”
David Coulthard names his stand-out star this season
But while Verstappen is claiming most of the plaudits this season, he hasn’t been the only star driver on the grid, the rest just aren’t driving a Red Bull.
Asked which of the Dutchman’s 19 rivals he feels is having a season that Formula 1 will remember, the Scot was quick to name McLaren driver Norris.
“I really enjoyed seeing Lando and McLaren coming forward, his teammate Oscar Piastri is definitely a winner of the future as well,” he said.
“I spoke to Lando before the [Hungarian] race and he was like, ‘Well, it’s wet, or it’s starting to get a bit wet, and who knows what can happen’.
“He is on the cusp of getting his first Grand Prix victory.
“I know he’s been around for a little while but I’m just so impressed with his speed, his professionalism, and also his communication skills, how he is that the track. He doesn’t go all ‘Hey I’m a Grand Prix diver.’ He goes ‘Look, I’m Lando, and I just happen to be a Grand Prix driver’.”
He’s also been impressed with his former tenant, Alex Albon, and the “wow” factor he has brought to Williams.
“He was actually my tenant in one of my apartments in Monaco,” Coulthard revealed. “I feel a bit guilty taking the money off him but business is business.
“He’s a lovely human being, very fast talented driver. It was probably all a bit overwhelming when he was at Red Bull Racing at that time. He did struggle a bit qualifying but delivered in the races, got a bit unlucky with a couple of up-close and personals with Lewis.
“But at Williams, wow, he’s really looking like the real deal. As Williams moved forward then again Britain’s in a good place with all the different British drives.”