Lewis Hamilton has said he would “100%” take on the challenge of being Max Verstappen’s team-mate, but doesn’t think his counterpart is as keen.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner claimed Hamilton’s team approached Red Bull for a conversation earlier in the year over a potential seat, while Hamilton himself believes it was the other way around.
But while the tantalising prospect of the two sharing a team is unlikely, Hamilton said he would be open to do doing so – though explained that the thrill of journey back to the top with Mercedes is the reason behind him committing his future to the Silver Arrows.
Lewis Hamiton would ‘100%’ race Max Verstappen in equal machinery
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Hamilton and Verstappen shared one of the most thrilling title battles in living memory in 2021 with a series of high-profile flashpoints, but Horner admitted that having the two of them at Red Bull might not be best for the team’s “dynamic”, given both of their success in the sport.
Hamilton has shared the garage with three World Champions in years gone by, partnering Fernando Alonso in his rookie season, along with three years with Jenson Button at McLaren before being beaten to title glory in 2016 by Mercedes stablemate Nico Rosberg.
Having taken on this kind of challenge before, the seven-time World Champion confirmed he would be open to taking on the reigning three-time champion in the same car.
“I’d be more than happy to race against Max in the same car, it would be wonderful, [but] I don’t think he wants me to be his team-mate,” Hamilton told media including PlanetF1.com in Abu Dhabi.
When discussing the subject of Horner’s message in more detail with Sky Sports F1, the question of whether or not he would be happy to partner Verstappen was the next natural talking point, with Hamilton reaffirming that view.
“100%, would be more than happy to race against him in an equal car,” Hamilton confirmed to when asked if he would be willing to race alongside Verstappen in future.
“For me, Red Bull has done an amazing job and it is an incredible team and any driver would love to drive for such a great group of people.
“I think moving from a car that’s not so great to a winning car, from my perspective, that’s not a dream.
“The dream is always to start where we kind of are and build up to then winning, and that’s why I’ve stayed with Mercedes.”
When asked if he would have the same willingness himself in the FIA press conference on Thursday, Verstappen was altogether quieter about the prospect – given the unlikeliness of such an event occurring.
“What would it add to know?” he responded when asked by Sky Sports’ David Croft about Horner’s comments. “Because I didn’t know, it’s not happening.
“You know there’s no point to make up stories if it’s not happening. I wouldn’t mind, it doesn’t matter anyway.
“I don’t want to put it now, particularly on Lewis, I mean, there are so many great drivers as well. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that.”