David Coulthard saw Aryton Senna and Michael Schumacher redefine what Formula One stars could get away with on the track.
And decades on, he believes hot-headed Max Verstappen is doing the same in his tantalising tussle with Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes star Hamilton and Red Bull’s Verstappen are level on points heading into the final Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi, though the Dutchman is ahead on race wins.
Verstappen has been criticised in recent weeks for stepping over the line when fighting for position with his title rival.
But former F1 star David Coulthard believes that Verstappen is merely following in the footsteps of legendary racers Senna and Schumacher, who won 10 world championships combined during their careers.
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“I grew up watching Aryton Senna declare what he was going to do before he did it with Prost at Suzuka,” Channel 4 pundit Coulthard exclusively told Mirror Sport.
“I’ve fought wheel to wheel with Michael Schumacher and he redefined what I thought were the rules and regulations and what or was not called foul by the stewards.
“That did redefine it, what was called foul, but he knew where the limit was. All of these guys are the people that change modern sport and move it forward.
“In Formula 1, the people that have driven before, we all look at it as ‘would we have done that in our day?’.
“But it’s not our day, it’s their day and they do what they need to do. They’re both so good and so fast and so determined.”
Some fear that Verstappen could deliberately take out Hamilton to ensure he wins the title, but that is not an outcome Coulthard foresees.
“I certainly wouldn’t condone any unsporting behaviour. I don’t believe for one minute that either of them would do something which is deliberately unsporting,” the former McLaren star added.
“They’re making decisions at 200 miles per hour, some of those decisions end up with both the drivers having contact or running wide or whatever.
“Both teams are under each other’s skin. I think both drivers are very much front and centre in each other’s minds.
“I think what’s fascinating is the brilliance of these two sports people, two people who are able to control themselves to a point where it’s giving us brilliant, close racing.
“Take away Max Verstappen and the championship is won a long time ago. Take away Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen wins the championship a long time ago.”
That has set the stage for a mouth-watering showdown and Coulthard cannot pick between the two championship contenders.
“It’s a track that’s been good for Max in the past but you have to say Lewis is on a roll, he’s won the last three grand prix,” he said.
“Thankfully I’m not a betting man. But what I will say is that momentum is with Lewis, their pace is fast, he’s won the last three races.
“But possession being nine-tenths of the law, then right now Max is in possession of one more victory, so Lewis needs to finish this Grand Prix, arguably more than Max does.
“I want it really to go down to the last lap of the race because I just think that would be a brilliant spectacle.”
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be shown live on Channel 4, with full race highlights at 5.30pm
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