Lewis Hamilton may be showing no signs of slowing down but David Coulthard still has doubts whether the Mercedes star will continue driving when his Formula 1 contract expires next year.
Five-time world champion Hamilton dominated practice at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in an ominous warning ahead of Saturday’s qualifying in Melbourne.
The Briton is in sight of a record eighth overall pole and sixth straight at Albert Park on Saturday.
And former Formula 1 star Coulthard believed Hamilton’s assault on the record books may not end there.
The Scot claimed Hamilton had the potential to break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world titles.
But Coulthard still reckoned it was “50-50” whether the 34-year-old would carry on when his lucrative Mercedes deal runs out at the end of 2020.
Coulthard said 39-year-old Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen’s presence in the 2019 field proved age was no barrier but he felt Hamilton may be tempted to walk away.
“I think it is 50-50 whether Lewis will go beyond the end of his contract,” he told AAP.
“He will be 35. I know Kimi is 39 but I stopped at 37 and I was getting tired — I think it will be interesting to see how long he goes.”
Coulthard did not rule out the Briton overtaking Schumacher on the record list but said Hamilton had already done enough to be considered a Formula 1 great.
“It’s an incredible run of seven titles but records are meant to be broken,” he said.
“I don’t think it would make me think more of Lewis if he won six or eight titles.
“I think he is already established as one of the greats of the sport.”
But Coulthard admitted there may be one thing Hamilton may never win — the UK public’s adoration.
While quick to acknowledge Hamilton’s greatness, Coulthard was left scratching his head over why the UK public had not embraced him.
He cited Hamilton being overlooked for the 2018 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, taken out by Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas.
“For the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which is a public vote, the Tour de France winner claimed it and not Lewis,” he said.
“You would think a five-time world champion was going to get it. He’s divisive, but he’s a nice guy.
“He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he is not an aggressive vindictive, knife in the back kind of guy.
“But for whatever reason in the wider public he’s not that well liked.”