Max Verstappen

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen smiles during a press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on November 23, 2023. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

Max Verstappen rejects rumours of Lewis Hamilton move to Red Bull

Max Verstappen has rejected the notion that his Red Bull team were considering approaching Lewis Hamilton to partner him in a dream line-up.

Max Verstappen

Red Bull Racing’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen smiles during a press conference ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city of Abu Dhabi on November 23, 2023. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

Max Verstappen on Thursday rejected the notion, rumoured and reported in recent days, that his Red Bull team were considering approaching Lewis Hamilton to partner him in a dream line-up.

ALSO READ | Mick Schumacher to stay on as Mercedes F1 reserve driver

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was quoted in the British media this week claiming that Hamilton’s management team has “reached out” several times, adding that “earlier this year there was an inquiry about whether there would be any interest”.

But both Verstappen and Hamilton, speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday’s season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, scotched the idea that the Briton was on the move from Mercedes.

“It’s not happening,” said Max Verstappen who has already wrapped up a third successive title.

“There’s no point to make up stories if it’s not happening.

“I wouldn’t mind, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to put it particularly on Lewis. There’s so many great drivers and sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that.”

CAUTION | Don’t DRIVE here: 10 most hazardous roads in SA

Hamilton also distanced himself from Horner’s claims that he “reached out” before agreeing to extend his contract with Mercedes.

“I don’t really know where that story has come from,” said the seven-time champion.

“I know it’s come from Christian but I don’t really understand what he’s been talking about.

“No one, as far as I’m aware, from my team has spoken to him. I haven’t spoken to Christian in years.”

ALSO READ | Formula One standings ahead of FINAL race of the season in Abu Dhabi

Hamilton added that Horner had approached him earlier this season.

“I just congratulated them on an amazing year and said that ‘Hopefully soon I’ll be able to fight against you guys in the near future’. That was it. So I’m not really sure, I think he’s just stirring things.”

He admitted, however, that he would like to compete with Verstappen in equal machinery.

“Yes, 100 percent, I’d be more than happy to race against him in an equal car,” he said.

“Red Bull has done an amazing job and it’s an incredible team – 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 the dream.

“The dream is to start where we (Mercedes) are and build up to then winning. And that’s why I’ve stayed at Mercedes.”

‘Final push’

Verstappen heads into Sunday’s race bidding for a record-increasing 19th win in 22 races this year.

A 54th career victory would carry him beyond four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the record books, sitting behind only Hamilton (103 wins) and Michael Schumacher (91).

QUESTION | FAQ: Can I sue government if I hit a POTHOLE in South Africa?

It would also give him an opportunity to break Jim Clark’s 40-year-old landmark record for percentage of laps led in a season.

Clark’s record of 71.4 percent of laps led has stood since 1963 but is likely to fall to Verstappen who has led 75.06 percent of this year’s laps.

“Abu Dhabi always brings back good memories for me and the team,” said Max Verstappen.

“It’s been a long but successful season this time and I’m looking forward to a break and some free time.

“The team has worked incredibly hard and everyone deserves a good rest and time with their friends and families.

“So it’s the last push for the year and I’m hoping to end this season on a high.”

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse

Tags: