Hamilton: Teammate relationship needs to be no worse than with Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton says he’s willing to take on anyone as his teammate at Mercedes next year, but has cautioned that the chosen combination has to work for the best interests of the team.
Hamilton made it clear that hiring a star name like Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, who may yet figure in Toto Wolff’s plans for 2018 and beyond if not for 2017, would not necessarily be a good idea.
The three-time champion was keen to dispel any suggestions that he didn’t care about the identity of his teammate.
“It’s important who we have in the second car,” he said in an interview with Channel 4. “It’s important for the team’s morale. We’ve seen in other teams and times [that] it can be a poisonous effect on a team, the arch-rivalry between drivers.
“For sure, I’m really happy here, I love being where I am, and whilst, OK, there’s been some interesting scenarios, we generally always pull through.
“So we’ve got to make sure that whatever we bring is at least as good as what we had, if not better, in terms of creating that energy. I’ve had experiences and divisions in the past which I would strongly advise not, in a team, to have that scenario.
“But what I meant is I’ll drive against every single driver you want… Ultimately when they decide, which is their decision, they can put any driver.
"Bring Fernando, bring Sebastian, bring whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year and beat him, so that’s not a worry for me. I’m happy to drive against any of them. But in terms of what’s best for the team – probably not the best idea.”
Hamilton confirmed that the team has to discuss its plans with him before making a choice.
“Contractually what they have to do, basically, once they have dwindled it down to five drivers, or whatever it is, the shortlist, contractually they have to discuss with me. But I don’t have a say [in] who it is.”
Mercedes confirmed on Thursday that it would not officially announce a new teammate for Hamilton until January 3 at the earliest.
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