Red Bull and Mercedes pair speak on the latest media saga of ‘Lewis Hamilton to Red Bull’ in ongoing F1 Abu Dhabi GP.
With the title done and dusted, the lead-up to the final F1 race in 2023 brought back an old media drama of ‘who contacted whom’. A story on Daily Mail quoted Red Bull boss Horner stating that Mercedes driver Hamilton contacted them to enquire about a possible seat.
This got blown up between Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi, with the four eventually noting what actually happened. Horner stated that the contact came from Anthony Hamilton and that both he and Lewis did have a message exchange to sit down and talk.
But Hamilton clarified that he got a text message from Horner on his old number. Upon checking the message on the new phone, he replied back and sort of turned down meeting him while congratulating him for Red Bull winning both the championships.
It is not that Hamilton wouldn’t wish to drive the dominant Red Bull car, but he isn’t to leave Mercedes after signing a two-year extension. The Brit stated that Max Verstappen wouldn’t want him beside him, even though the Dutchman noted about being fine.
Hamilton said that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff knew about the message exchange, with the Austrian a bit baffled about the whole situation and wanted Horner to enjoy the moment rather than create media headlines which has no huge substance.
Hamilton concurred that his name is used often to remain in headlines. The Brit also turned down the Ferrari contact as Horner mentioned. He clarified that he has been in touch with John Elkann for long but not for a drive, as he has been with Frederic Vasseur.
Red Bull say:
Media article, connection with Lewis Hamilton –
Horner: “It’s remarkable how much traction this has got. So thank you to the Daily Mail for going exclusively large on this item. I mean, it’s a question of he said, she said, who said, what said. It’s entirely normal for drivers, drivers’ representatives, drivers’ parents, to have different conversations during the course of the year and look, we haven’t had any serious discussions with Lewis. There was never a seat available. But, you know, I’ve known Anthony Hamilton for many years, he’s a good guy. He’s a proud racing father and inevitably when drivers go through tough spots – and you know, let’s face it, Lewis hasn’t won a Grand Prix for two years – it’s inevitable that questions will be asked up and down the paddock. So, but there was never any engagement and I don’t know who represents who or what, but with the same surname, you would think they were reasonably close. It’s difficult to say, but there was no, other than pleasantries.
“There was no specific ‘can I drive for Red Bull next year’, unless Anthony wanted to drive. So yeah, but that’s, as I say, not unusual. I mean, there are many drivers, as you can imagine, that we hear from during the course of a year. Not really, [I was not surprised by the contact]. I mean, he’s the most successful driver of all time, and hasn’t won a Grand Prix since 2021. So you haven’t got to be a rocket scientist to work that out. And I doubt that I was the only one that there was an inquiry made to. Now, what the dynamics are within any given relationship, I don’t know. I’m not privy to that. But, you know, inevitably there are questions going to be asked. And there’s not really much more to say a lot has been made out of something fairly innocuous.”
Racing alongside Lewis Hamilton –
Verstappen: “No, because it’s not happening. So there’s no point to make up stories if it’s not happening. [Hypothetically], so yeah, I wouldn’t mind. It doesn’t matter. Anyone. I don’t want to put it like now particularly on Lewis. There’s so many great drivers as well. So, yeah, sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that.”
What actually happened –
Hamilton: “No, I didn’t approach them… Christian messaged me. I’ve checked with everyone in my team, and no one has spoken to them. But they have tried to reach out to us. I picked up my old phone, which I just found at home, that had my old number on it. I switched it on and obviously hundreds of messages came through and I realised there was one from Christian to get together and have a chat at the end of the season. I did tell Toto [about replying to Horner], especially when the story broke because I have so much respect for Toto and we have a great relationship. Also, I wanted my team to know because people think those things and it’s never a positive. I just replied to him on my new phone. It was after a weekend. It was quite late on that I found the message. It was from earlier on in the year. So, it was like months later. I just said ‘congratulations on an amazing season and hope we are able to compete with you soon’. And he replied, that ‘he hopes to repeat the same thing’. 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 teammate.”
Using his name for news –
Hamilton: “Not really, I think there’s a lot of people here that like to drop my name in many conversations because they know it’s going to make waves. If you’re a little bit lonely and aren’t getting much attention, it’s a perfect thing to do. Just mention my name.”
Ferrari scene –
Hamilton: “I know John really well, we met years ago in the Google camp. I went to a Google camp in Sicily and that’s when our friendship started and we’ve always remained in touch. I’ve known Fred since 2005 and we’ve always had a really great relationship and we would talk often, particularly since he’s been in Formula 1. Because after I left his team, we would talk all the time obviously when I was in his team, and I came to Formula 1 and you have less contact with the Formula 2 series. But since he’s been back in F1 we’ve met, we’ve had more [conversations], we’ve travelled together with Toto. So that’s really as far as it goes.”
Whole media rumble started by Red Bull –
Wolff (to Planet F1 and co): “I just don’t know what drives the guy. We don’t understand his thinking to come up with these things. What happened is that Christian, through an agency that we work with, wanted to have his contact details to speak about the seat. That’s how the whole thing went, it was Christian inquiring into his availability. Lewis had an exchange with Christian – which he immediately told me about, which was not about a seat, but it was just… blah. I’ve seen it. So I don’t know what drives him to come out with this. You’ve won the season. Be happy about it, be humble. Enjoy it. Don’t make comments about Abu Dhabi 2021, which are completely off the mark and character question. I just wonder what’s going on up there.”
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