‘Nico falling short of ‘Senna-esque’ Lewis’


David Coulthard has described Lewis Hamilton's current form as Senna-esque, adding that team-mate Nico Rosberg is just not a match for him at the moment.

Hamilton was in imperious form at the Italian Grand Prix over the weekend as he claimed his 11th pole position of the season and then went on to win secure his seventh win, finishing 25s ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

In his latest BBC Sport column, Coulthard admits Hamilton is on a different level at the moment.

"Hamilton still has doubters out there – whenever I use a phrase such as a "Senna-esque performance" about Hamilton, I get criticised, as if it is some kind of sacrilege," he said. "But Senna-esque is exactly how Hamilton is performing at the moment.

"We cannot ignore the fact that Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg has had a very solid career in F1, with the occasional exceptional race. Rosberg gave Hamilton a run for his money in both their first two seasons as team-mates in 2013 and 2014.

"Hamilton, like all great drivers, has exceptional speed. Rosberg appeared somehow to be able to neutralise that last year the year before. But not this year."

With Rosberg retiring from Sunday's race due to an engine-related problem, Hamilton opened a 53-point lead in the Drivers' Championship with seven races still remaining.

Although the German has vowed not to give up in the title race, Coulthard feels he is falling well short of Hamilton's standards.

"It is never over until it is over – Hamilton could have a run of bad luck with accidents and reliability. You never know," he added. "But if we are frank, at hardly any point this year has Rosberg looked a match for Hamilton.

"I can completely relate to that situation, and see it with a clarity that Rosberg perhaps cannot. Having raced for six years as team-mate to Mika Hakkinen, I know what it is to be alongside a driver who fundamentally is just that bit faster. You are often left short by only a tenth of a second – but you are left short.

"You don't give up, and say: "Oh, he's better than me." You keep digging deep, and keep thinking of ways to win. You keep believing. That is an inherent part of being a sportsman.

"But Rosberg has not been the equal of Hamilton this year, and he knows that.

"There is no shame in that. He has been a great racing driver, and a marvellous asset for Mercedes F1 but so far Hamilton has been the stronger."