David Coulthard believes Nico Rosberg needs to take more risks when he is going head-to-head with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
With only five races left this campaign, Hamilton has a comfortable 48-point lead over Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship after he claimed his eighth win of the season at Japan on Sunday.
“Hamilton has been a winning machine this year. Nico Rosberg is a talented racing driver and without Hamilton in the team he would be world champion,” Coulthard said in his column for BBC Sport.
“But, for me, F1 is not about just being a champion, it is about putting yourself against the best and finding out whether you are capable of beating them – and then becoming champion.”
The weekend started well for Rosberg as he claimed pole position ahead of Hamilton and he made a solid enough start once the lights went out, but they were side-by-side at Turn 1 and by Turn 2 it was the Briton who edged ahead.
Hamilton never relinquished the lead after that and there were suggestions after the race that he pushed Rosberg off the track during their battle at Turn 2, but Coulthard feels he is just not aggressive enough.
“Rosberg was slow off the line from pole, but he still had an opportunity to fend Hamilton off into Turn Two and he was not able to make it stick,” Coulthard added.
“He went off the track because Hamilton drove him off the track by not giving him a line – which is perfectly legitimate.
“If Rosberg had gone off the track because he braked too late in an attempt to keep Hamilton behind, that would have showed aggression and intent.”
Coulthard continued: “Hamilton makes mistakes, too – but not when he’s at the front. He makes them trying to get past people.
“He is prepared to put things on the line and deal with the consequences and, good as Rosberg’s pass was on Williams’s Valtteri Bottas in Japan, we have not seen Nico do that against Lewis.
“He can drive poles, take wins, and make passes. But he needs to be able to do it against everyone, and from lights out to chequered flag.
“Most of Rosberg’s wins have come from the front. People such as Hamilton and Alonso can win from behind as well.
“If [Fernando] Alonso was in the second Mercedes instead of Rosberg, this title battle would be a hell of a lot closer than it is now.”