Lewis Hamilton expressed his willingness to embrace the challenge of being Max Verstappen's teammate, stating he'd be "100%" up for it. However, he suspects Verstappen might not share the same enthusiasm.
Christian Horner, Red Bull's team principal, suggested that Hamilton's team initiated talks with Red Bull about a potential seat earlier in the year, while Hamilton believes the opposite to be true.
Although the idea of them sharing a team seems improbable, Hamilton indicated he would consider it. Yet, he clarified that his commitment to Mercedes and the excitement of reclaiming the top spot with the Silver Arrows is his primary focus.
The intense rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen during the 2021 season created a gripping title battle, but Horner admitted that having both drivers at Red Bull might not harmonise well due to their individual success in the sport.
Hamilton has previously teamed up with three World Champions, starting with Fernando Alonso in his debut season, followed by a partnership with Jenson Button at McLaren for three years, and eventually being pipped to the title by Nico Rosberg in 2016, his Mercedes stablemate.
Given his past experiences, the seven-time World Champion affirmed his readiness to face the current three-time champion in equal machinery.
“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 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 with 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.”