Red Bull are standing by Christian Horner’s claim that Lewis Hamilton approached the team about a potential move earlier this year, Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater has revealed.
Mercedes, meanwhile, have insisted they are “relaxed” about the situation, casting doubt on whether an approach even took place.
The F1 world was rocked on Wednesday night when Horner was quoted by British newspaper the Daily Mail as saying that Hamilton had contacted Red Bull about joining as Max Verstappen’s team-mate prior to signing a contract extension with Mercedes until the end of the 2025 season.
Lewis Hamilton accused of seeking Mercedes escape route with Red Bull, Ferrari approached
“We have had several conversations over the years about Lewis joining,” Horner said. “They have reached out a few times. Most recently, earlier in the year, there was an inquiry about whether there would be any interest.”
Horner went on to state that Red Bull are “100 per cent happy” with their current lineup of Verstappen and Sergio Perez, insisting “the dynamic wouldn’t be right” between Hamilton and Verstappen in the same environment.
He also claimed Hamilton, who hasn’t won a race since December 2021 as a result of Mercedes’ struggles in F1’s ground effect era, also held conversations with Ferrari president John Elkann about a possible move to Maranello.
Appearing on Sky Sports, Slater has issued an update on the situation after contacting both teams, with Red Bull sticking by Horner’s story and Mercedes attempting to cast doubt on it.
He said: “I thought I’d better fact-check it so I got in touch with Red Bull and they say: ‘Yes, absolutely, Christian Horner stands by this. A known Lewis Hamilton representative made contact with him.’
“They wouldn’t specify how in depth this contact was particularly, but it did happen.
“That’s the more interesting aspect to all of this because Lewis has ultimately re-signed with Mercedes for another couple of years – and he did speak during the contract negotiation process about not looking anywhere else.
“I did get in touch with Mercedes who tell me they are relaxed, they are not stressed about any of this.
“As far as they see it, they think it’s rather implausible but it would be, in their view, due diligence for a representative of Lewis Hamilton to go and maybe see what else is out there, what future opportunities might potentially be out there.
“But they’re not taking it particularly seriously and it is not in any way an issue between the team and Lewis even if this did happen, which they’re not convinced it did.
“It could even be the case, of course, that Lewis didn’t even know about this contact necessarily. One insider connected with the team observed to me: ‘Well, is this Christian Horner needing to use Lewis’s name to make a few headlines?'”