The huge sacrifice Red Bull would have to make to sign Lewis Hamilton alongside Max Verstappen

Thomas Maher
Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Christian Horner has jokingly revealed the huge sacrifice Red Bull would have to make in order to sign Lewis Hamilton alongside Max Verstappen.

The thought of Lewis Hamilton racing for anybody other than Mercedes, the team for whom he’s raced for the last decade to record-breaking success, may seem unthinkable, but the seven-time World Champion’s contract is up for renewal.

Hamilton’s current deal expires at the conclusion of the 2023 season and, despite months of reassurances from both himself and from the Mercedes camp, no announcement regarding his future has yet been made.

What would Red Bull do to land Lewis Hamilton?

Given his current availability on the driver market, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was asked about the possibility of securing his signature and getting the seven-time World Champion to race alongside their own two (or three) time World Champion from next season – despite Sergio Perez’s existing contract for 2024.

Such a scenario may seem unimaginable, given the outright hostilities between the two warring sides during the chaotic 2021 title fight, especially given Hamilton’s insistence that he’s with Mercedes “for life”.

But Horner revealed Red Bull had pondered the possibility in the past.

“It’s nothing that we’ve never considered in the recent past,” he told media on Friday in Austria.

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But the sheer cost of paying for Hamilton’s contract, along with Verstappen’s, with driver contracts falling outside of the mandatory F1 budget cap, means that such a scenario might require a drastic response from Red Bull.

“I mean, obviously, to pay for those two drivers in itself, we would probably have to sell the factory!” Horner joked.

“But, you know, Lewis is obviously a great driver. Hopefully, he’ll be around for many years to come.

“There’s been a couple of occasions in history that we’ve had a couple of conversations about the possibility of joining Red Bull, but that’s not been anytime recently.”

How much would the Max Verstappen/Lewis Hamilton duo cost Red Bull?

Despite Horner’s tongue-in-cheek response, could Red Bull really afford Hamilton and Verstappen as a driver pairing? The reality is that, of all the teams, they are amongst the most likely. Their deal with title sponsor Oracle is believed to be worth around $100 million annually, with that one sponsorship agreement covering a huge portion of the F1 budget cap alone.

Hamilton’s 2023 Mercedes pay is a rumoured $35 million, dwarfed by Verstappen’s paycheque of $55 million. If Mercedes and Hamilton did fail to reach terms for next year, Hamilton’s paycheque would likely take a little bit of a dip in order to stay with a competitive team – meaning Red Bull could pay somewhere between $80-90 million for the two.

How happy with Oracle be about almost their entire sponsorship fund going to pay for a combination like Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton?

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