Former F1 racer David Coulthard says he hopes that Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the first indication that the Briton's recent personal problems are now firmly in the past.
The McLaren driver has endured a difficult season with a number of incidents on track over the course of the campaign, while a split with girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger has also increased the pressure on the 2008 title winner.
However, at Yas Marina, Hamilton made the most of Sebastian Vettel's early puncture to dominate the penultimate race of the season for his third win of the year – and only his second podium finish since taking victory in Germany back in July.
Writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph
, Coulthard admitted it was good to see his fellow Brit back on form both on and off track, as he put his past issues firmly behind him.
“After all the column inches, the speculation over his mental state and his driving, he came back and delivered a near-faultless weekend,” DC wrote. “We will never know what might have happened had Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull not blown a tyre on the opening lap but that's immaterial now. Lewis was in position to capitalise and didn't put a wheel out of place.
“Lewis is a naturally emotional guy, and there will be times when this handicaps him, but when you see the unadulterated joy, the relief, the passion on his face, after a win like he had on Sunday, you can't help but admire someone who is prepared to let it all hang out. I saw him afterwards, away from the cameras, holding hands with his mother and it was deeply touching.
“Can this be a turning point for Lewis? I have no idea. As he has told us enough times, his problems stem from issues off the track — personal issues — but there has never been any doubting his talent or speed. I hope he comes back strong next year because Formula One needs a fully fit, fully functioning Lewis Hamilton.”
Coulthard also poured scorn on suggestions that Hamilton had been aided by McLaren stage-managing the KERS issue that affected team-mate Jenson Button – claims Coulthard insisted were complete nonsense.
“I heard some ludicrous suggestions on Monday that McLaren might have deliberately caused his KERS issues on Sunday to allow Lewis some breathing space,” he said. “Some even linked this theory to the presence of Ron Dennis in the McLaren motor home for the first time in a while. Nonsense.”