Max Verstappen's F1 dominance could go on until 2026, says David Coulthard

Former driver believes rule changes will present teams with a chance to challenge Red Bull

Former F1 racecar driver David Coulthard during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix event held at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
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Max Verstappen's sheer domination of Formula One could continue for another two years, warned former driver David Coulthard.

Verstappen became the first driver this century to start the season with five consecutive pole positions in qualifying for last Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. He went on to crush the opposition for a fourth win in five. The Red Bull star has won every race he has finished so far in 2024.

Remarkably, since Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 drivers' championship in Abu Dhabi, the 26-year-old has won 38 of the 49 races staged and is seemingly on his way to a fourth title in as many seasons.

Speaking at Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island for the launch of the 2024 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Coulthard said it is inevitable the Dutchman will be toppled but suggested that might not happen until rule changes are implemented in 2026.

“Formula One today is actually closer than it has ever been in terms of the front to the rear of the grid – after Max Verstappen, which if you're a Max Verstappen fan you are loving.

“History would suggest that when you have periods of dominance in sport, whether it is in soccer or Formula One, it never lasts forever.

“There's always going to be that cycle and that change, and big regulation changes are normally a catalyst for that.

“In 2026 we have major rule changes in Formula One, the configuration of the engines and the set-up of the cars, and a lot of the teams are very much focused on that as their opportunity to take a step forward.”

One of the teams seeking to overhaul Red Bull is Ferrari, who will attempt to do so with seven-time world champion Hamilton in their ranks from next season.

Coulthard said the 39 year old's switch from Mercedes had “shocked” him but praised Hamilton for his bravery.

“I think it shows his absolute hunger and desire to win again and to win an eighth world title and maybe more,” he said.

“I think it's incredibly brave, I think it's incredibly exciting, maybe incredibly disappointing for Mercedes, but that stimulates them to look to the future.”

Meanwhile, Saif Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of organisers Ethara, announced early-bird packages are now on sale for December's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. British band Muse were confirmed among the headliners for this year's after-race concerts.

Coulthard started his F1 career at Williams in 1994 and would also represent McLaren and Red Bull, winning 13 grands prix. He retired in 2008, one year before Abu Dhabi hosted its first race, and the Scot reflected how he could "never have imagined" back then the impact the race would have on the F1 calendar.

“When I look back at when my journey started in Formula One in 1994, I could never have imagined that we would be coming and having what will be the 16th event here in Abu Dhabi.

“When the plans were announced, I remember very well the scale model that was brought to the paddock. It looked so futuristic. It looked like this was dreaming beyond what would actually be delivered, but it was delivered, and it has delivered an incredible experience for the drivers.”

ADGP at the Louvre – in pictures

Updated: April 25, 2024, 8:05 AM