Christian Horner has confirmed there will be no seat waiting at Red Bull if Lewis Hamilton decides to leave Mercedes at the end of the 2023 Formula 1 season.
After suffering the first winless campaign of his career last season, Hamilton had been hoping to return to title-winning contention this year but his Mercedes team are no closer to the front with Hamilton finishing a distant fifth in the opening two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
With Hamilton claiming after the season opener that the Mercedes technical team did not listen to his guidance over the development direction of the 2023 car, cracks appear to have developed in the relationship between team and driver, whose contract is set to to expire at the end of the current season.
Horner’s Red Bull team are the reigning Constructors’ Champions and have made a perfect start to 2023 after Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez opened the season with consecutive one-two finishes.
And despite his respect for Hamilton’s achievements in F1, Horner is insistent that there will be no vacancy at Red Bull if the seven-time World Champion’s stint at Mercedes is not extended.
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He told Sky News: “What Lewis has achieved in Formula 1 is second to none but we’re very happy with the drivers that we have.
“They’re committed as a pair for not only this season but next season as well, so I can’t see where we would be able to accommodate Lewis.
“But I’m sure they’re going to sort their issues out and we’re certainly not writing him off yet.”
With team boss Toto Wolff admitting in Bahrain that Mercedes pursued the wrong car concept for 2023, the team are expected to move towards the so-called Red Bull concept in a major upgrade plan for the W14.
Despite Mercedes’ current struggles, Horner is wary that Hamilton’s team – winners of the Constructors’ Championship for eight straight years between 2014 and 2021 – cannot be written off.
He added: “The regulations are still relatively young – it’s only the second year of these new regulations – so I’m expecting to see an awful lot of convergence during the course of the year and the grid is going to tighten up.
“So we need to make hay while the sun shines at the moment while we’ve got a competitive car and just keep pushing through the season.”