New love could be the key to Valteri Bottas finally mounting a serious threat to Lewis Hamilton for the world championship in 2020.
David Coulthard, the 13-time grand prix winner, believes the flying Finn was hit hard last year by his divorce from Olympic athlete Emilia after a relationship that ran for nearly 10 years, but could now be inspired by his love for Aussie cyclist Tiffany Cromwell.
“I’m wondering whether, because he’s in this new-love phase, that it’s a positive direction,” Coulthard tells Race News.
“He’s recently divorced and got a new love. Does this release him to a new level?
“That was the thing I was most curious about. I think positive distractions are good.”
Coulthard admits his F1 form was better when he was at the start of a relationship, and he had a few before settling happily into family life with his wife Karen and son Dayton.
Looking at the cancelled Australian Grand Prix, Coulthard reveals his thinking.
“The safe money was on Lewis to win the race, but I was curious to see how Valteri was going to go,” he says.
“Max (Verstappen) is not frightened of any one. He will be a thorn in everyone’s side.
“I think we’ve actually got quite a fascinating dynamic with the two young guns, Max and Charles Leclerc, and Lewis still at the top of his game.”
Coulthard also rates Sebastian Vettel, despite the threat from Leclerc and his error-riddled 2019 campaign at Ferrari.
“Vettel won those four world championships because he is good. He made too many mistakes last year for a four-time world champion.
“But if he has got his focus where it needs to be . . .”
Although Coulthard is a long-retired racer, who now weighs in at a comfortable but svelte nine kilograms over his racing weight, he is still closely tied to F1.
He has both a television production company and an events business, is one of the key players in the emerging W Series for female racers, is a Mercedes-Benz ambassador and does regular F1 demonstrations for Red Bull Racing.
He has spun donuts on the helipad on top of the towing Burj Al Arab in Dubai, raced a taxi in downtown Cape Town in South Africa and skidded sideways in Mumbai in India.
One stunt, when he sprinted across the Bosphorus Bridge that links Asia and Europe in Istanbul, Turkey, cost him a 20 Euro fine for failing to pay his toll.
Coulthard says he enjoys the action but has been thinking seriously about the ultimate challenge – turning upside-down in an F1 car.
“I want to do it upside down. It’s not dangerous. The science prove it works,” Coulthard says.
“The wings don’t know which way they are working. The car doesn’t know it’s that way around,” he says.
“I’d have to go 140 or 150 miles-per hour (225-250km/h). That’s not hard.
“The car only weighs 700 kilos and it makes 2000 kilos of downforce. So it will stick.
But he knows there could be a drama, as an upside-down engine spinning at 15,000 revs could run out of oil and explode.
“The engine knows it’s upside-down. And the driver would be hanging on the belts. But you don’t want an engine failure.”
An electric motor might work better, and Mercedes-Benz has a Formula E single-seater racing car, but Coulthard dismisses the idea completely.
“Formula E cars don’t have any downforce,” he says.