Sky F1 pundit Naomi Schiff believes neither Christian Horner nor Lewis Hamilton are telling the full truth over apparent Red Bull discussions involving the pair.
Ahead of the F1 2023 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, in a Daily Mail interview, claimed that an approach had been made from the Lewis Hamilton camp regarding a potential switch from Mercedes to Red Bull.
Hamilton denied that this was the case and that Horner was just “stirring”, adding that when he switched on his old phone, a message from Horner was among the flurry, asking for a “catch-up” at the end of the season.
Christian Horner and Lewis Hamilton “clearly covering something up”
Horner has since said that Hamilton’s father Anthony was the person who got in touch, though Schiff is certain that neither side of this tale is telling the truth.
“What I would love to know and see is the truth,” she said. “I feel as flat as you make a pancake, there’s always going to be two sides.
“But one thing is they’re clearly both covering something up here. I don’t think we’ll ever really know the truth of what went down, whether it was Anthony who contacted Christian, whether it was Lewis, his old phone, whichever way it goes, we’re never going to fully know the truth.”
Hamilton has not won a race in two years as Mercedes continue to struggle to master the ground effect regulations, while Red Bull has established itself as the dominant force, something which Horner said makes testing the Red Bull waters a natural move for Hamilton’s management.
However, Schiff does not believe Hamilton is at the point yet where he has lost trust in Mercedes’ ability to put him back in the title hunt.
Hamilton earlier this year signed a new contract with Mercedes, running until the end of 2025.
“I think one thing’s for sure: I don’t think that Lewis Hamilton right now has given up enough on Mercedes’ ability to potentially turn the situation around to consider Red Bull,” Schiff continued.
“If that’s something for the future, potentially, but right now I don’t think it’s a real consideration.”
Former F1 racer Martin Brundle said that Hamilton’s inner circle would not be doing their job for the seven-time World Champion if they did not “check the field” and see what openings were potentially around.
“You wouldn’t be doing your job for a driver if you didn’t just check the field out and see what’s out there,” said Brundle. “Have a lever against your negotiations or some options.
“Of course, they don’t want to be seen to talk to other teams, it upsets your team, but for sure they will have had a good chat.”
1996 World Champion Damon Hill had a similar take on the situation, saying it would have been “foolish” for Hamilton’s management not to look for potential drives away from Mercedes as ammunition in contract talks with team boss Toto Wolff.
“It’s always good to have something else to know what your options are,” said Hill.
“So as Martin said, you’d be foolish to go in, Lewis, and go to Toto, ‘Can I race for you again next year? I haven’t got anything else on the table.’ That wouldn’t be wise.
“If you can get yourself into a better position, either pay-wise or competitive-wise – and I think with Lewis it will definitely be a competitive motivation rather than the money – then he’d jump at it.”
Hamilton last tasted victory at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.