Hamilton sees "opportunity" in potential Verstappen team-up

Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton believes it could be beneficial "in some ways" to have Max Verstappen join Mercedes, as it would allow him to prove he can take on Verstappen in equal machinery.

Hamilton sees "opportunity" in potential Verstappen team-up

Verstappen, who has won seven races since joining Red Bull’s main F1 team in 2016, has an existing deal with the energy drinks giant that runs through 2020.

However, it is understood there are performance clauses that could allow for the contract to be terminated early, which has led to speculation that Verstappen is an outside contender to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes when the Finn’s current deal runs out at the end of the season.

Read Also:

And while Hamilton has made it clear that he would be glad to see Bottas retain the seat, having enjoyed a harmonious relationship with the Finn since Bottas' arrival in 2017, the reigning champion said he would not be averse to partnering Verstappen.

“I’d honestly have no problem with it. As I said before, I like working with Valtteri and I don’t know how that [Hamilton/Verstappen] dynamic would work for the team,” Hamilton said when asked about the possibility ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“I’m not saying it would or would not - I see positives and potential negatives. Obviously there are always positives and negatives to people that you’re working with, but I have no particular opinion towards it.

“In some ways it works out for me. At the moment I see stories that it’s because we have different cars and that’s the only way [I beat him] but this gives me the opportunity to show you that’s not the case.”

Verstappen’s stellar performances in 2019 have left him positioned as F1’s in-form driver, but when asked about claims that he was now stronger than Hamilton, the Dutchman said: “I don’t say any of those things. And I also don’t care. What is the most important for me is that I perform on track.”

The Red Bull man is now 63 points behind Hamilton following his second win of the season in Germany, but has reiterated his belief that the victory hasn’t changed the outlook of the title fight.

“With Mercedes having had such a dominant start to this season I think it is really hard to catch them,” Verstappen said. “We are going to try, but I am not thinking about the championship.”

Hamilton, for his part, said “time will tell” if Verstappen could still mount a title challenge this year.

“I think they [Red Bull] have done a great job, they've clearly done a great job in quite a few of the races now,” Hamilton said. “In the last one we didn't do such a great job, we did a pretty bad job. It made their job look even better.

“But nevertheless I think we've got to continue just to focus on ourselves, not be distracted by focusing on others. I think they'll be probably quick here [in Hungary], and there'll be places like Singapore where they'll probably be strong - but they are in general, collectively, slowly catching up.

“It's easier, I would say, to catch up than it is always to stay ahead, to be the leader, in many different aspects, but I think yeah, it's great to see them progressing. We want the competition.”

Additional reporting by Stuart Codling and Scott Mitchell

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, makes contact with leader Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, in the closing stages of the race

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, makes contact with leader Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, in the closing stages of the race

Photo by: Hasan Bratic / Sutton Images

shares
comments
Hungarian GP: Best images from Budapest on Thursday

Previous article

Hungarian GP: Best images from Budapest on Thursday

Next article

Revealed: Ricciardo's defence against £10m claim

Revealed: Ricciardo's defence against £10m claim
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Max Verstappen
Teams Mercedes
Author Valentin Khorounzhiy
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Prime

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Prime

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping .

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Prime

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is no guarantee.

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The themes to watch in F1's Imola return Prime

The themes to watch in F1's Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Prime

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. Ben Anderson looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021
The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Prime

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says Nigel Roebuck.

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Prime

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now? Prime

Is Formula 1 as good as it has ever been now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021