David Coulthard has told Lewis Hamilton that he can use F1 to exorcise any mental health problems.
The Scot, now a respected pundit, believes the Stevenage ace can overcome the stresses and strains of everyday life by throwing himself at the sport.
Hamilton, 37, has hinted at issues that he has been working through to retain his position at the top with Mercedes and wrote on an Instagram post a few weeks ago: “It has been such a tough year already with everything that’s happening around us, hard some days to stay positive. I have struggled mentally and emotionally for a long time.
"To keep going is a constant effort but we have to keep fighting. We have so much to do and to achieve.” But Coulthard believes that by focusing on making up ground on the early pacesetters that the seven-time world champion Hamilton can use it to both his – and the Silver Arrows’ advantage.
He said: “Lewis has got other stuff going on his life – there were comments about his mental health – and these are all things that affect people in their everyday life. Now he could find that F1 is a fantastic escape from that. Obviously, it could be a burden. I wouldn’t want to comment either way but it’s going to be interesting to see how he comes through the task of developing a car.”
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Coulthard said that Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell won’t be carrying the same baggage – and that he will just tackle each obstacle on its own merit. He added: “George will get on with it. He’s young – he’s still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and has all the energy that goes with being a 20-year-old man.”
And the former McLaren driver added that the season’s regulation changes have only added to the drama of the new campaign with the controversy of the last one still fresh in the mind. He said: “What was predicted was that a major changes would bring the grid closer together because of the budget cap. That’s not necessarily the case.
“Ferrari have come into play, Haas and Alfa Romeo – that makes Valtteri Bottas’s position look visionary by the way – it gives those hard-working teams some skin the game. They’ve now got cars running the top ten, which can only be good for the sport.”
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