David Coulthard Tips Nico Rosberg To Close The Gap On Lewis Hamilton

Laureus Ambassador David Coulthard, who won 13 Grand Prix in a stellar career lasting 15 years, is tipping Nico Rosberg to narrow the gap to world champion Lewis Hamilton when the new Formula One season begins in Melbourne on Sunday.  Coulthard told Laureus.com he fancies the German to be more competitive in 2015:  ‘Nico will be stronger this year, but it is difficult to imagine how Lewis can be any stronger – he has already won two world championships.  For Nico, it was the first time that he’s had that world championship battle, so I think he’ll grow from that experience and that puts pressure on Lewis this year.”

Looking ahead to the new season, Coulthard added:  ‘Lewis goes into the season as a favourite because he is a winning package.  He’s got the psychological edge and he’s got all that experience behind him.  Nico could very easily have won last year, but, even if he had, I think Lewis would still have been seen as the better racer.  It is not a question of who is faster, as they are both incredibly fast, but there is just that one area that Lewis has shown himself consistently to be a bit stronger.  If Nico can get on top of that, then he’s absolutely got all the skills to be a world champion.’  Coulthard also complimenteds Mercedes AMG Petronas on how they managed two such brilliant drivers in the team during a tough 2014 season where tempers threatened to flare on several occasions:  ‘I do take my hat off to Toto Wolff, Niki Lauda and the Mercedes-Benz board for having the strength to allow the drivers to race.  Mercedes said that the rules were very clear: “Try and avoid crashing into each other.  We can’t say don’t crash into each other because accidents will happen from time to time, but you both have an equal opportunity.”  So I think the way they managed it was correct for the sport and correct for the fans of the sport.”

The Scot says he fancies last year’s constructor’s title winners to start as the favourites this year:  ‘Mercedes saw the opportunity with the new hybrid technology and the key to their success is the heart of the car, which is the engine.  The team have always done a great job mechanically and aerodynamically with the car as well.  They’ve headhunted great drivers and the rest, as they say, is history.’  This year the former Williams and McLaren driver says fans should keep an eye on Red Bull’s Danny Ricciardo:  ‘He is a breath of fresh air for Formula One.  Great driver, great physical commitment to his training and he’s got an endearing, energetic, enthusiastic personality, which I think will really help capture more fans for Formula One, and that’s good.  There are a number of new drivers to Formula One: you’ve got Max Verstappen with Toro Rosso and I think everyone is going to be looking in to see how a 17-year-old can get on in racing.  Personally, you deserve to be there if you’re skilled enough and it is not a question of being too young or too old.  What he can’t have, of course, at 17 is life experience and Formula One is not just about driving a racing car, there are a lot of other things, so he will be growing up in the public eye and pressure comes with that.’

Hamilton, as a result of his second world championship win, is a contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, and Coulthard fancies his fellow Briton’s chances:  ‘I really believe he’s grown as a person, he’s matured, he’s turned 30.  He’s not necessarily faster than when he started Formula One, but he would definitely be a better all-around person, which is what life is about.  I really believe that Lewis is sincere in his appreciation of the support that he’s been given and that he races for the fans and takes energy from them.’

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