Lewis Hamilton insists that he’d have no issue with Max Verstappen as his teammate in the 2020 Formula 1 season if Mercedes replace Valtteri Bottas.
Amid rumors that Max Verstappen may leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and join Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport as the replacement for Valtteri Bottas ahead of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton stated in early July that he would not mind having the 21-year-old Dutchman as his teammate.
Bottas signed a one-year contract extension with Mercedes last July, and this contract extension contains an additional one-year option. However, there has been nothing from the Silver Arrows regarding whether or not they will pick up this option to retain the 29-year-old Finn for the 2020 season.
Verstappen, meanwhile, signed a three-year contract extension with Red Bull Racing in October of 2017 to drive for the team through at least the 2020 season, but there is a performance clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the team, according to team manager Helmut Marko.
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Without going into detail on what this performance clause includes, Verstappen’s manager, Raymond Vermeulen, confirmed that it exists.
Hamilton’s claim came largely due the fact that there is an ongoing debate as to whether the five-time champion is truly the best driver in Formula 1 or if the rising superstar Verstappen has overtaken him in that category despite the fact that he drives for an overall slower team than Hamilton does.
Bottas has never really come close to challenging the 34-year-old Briton since replacing 2016 champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, winning five races since the start of the 2017 season while Hamilton has won 27, prompting criticism toward Hamilton about the lack of competition he has faced driving for Formula 1’s clear top team over the last few years.
Now Hamilton has reiterated his claim and gone into more detail, even stating that having Verstappen as his teammate could be a chance to prove himself to his doubters.
Here is what Hamilton had to say about the matter, according to ESPN.
"“I honestly have no problem with it. I do like working with Valtteri, so I am not too sure how that dynamic would work for the team, but I am not saying it would or it would not. I see positives from that move and potential negatives, but there are always positives and negatives with different people you end up working with. In some ways it works well for me. I see stories saying that we have different cars, so that’s the only way [I am beating him], so it gives me an opportunity to show that’s not the case.”"
Hamilton sits in second place on the all-time Formula 1 wins list with 80 victories, and he sits tied for second on the all-time Formula 1 championships list with five championships. He trails only 91-time Grand Prix winner and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in those categories, and he is tied with Juan Manuel Fangio in the latter.
Hamilton currently leads the driver standings by 41 points (225 to 184) over Bottas in second place with 11 of the 2019 season’s 21 races having been contested. He has won seven of these 11 races while Bottas has won two, and he appears to have the championship, which would be his third consecutive and his fifth in the last six seasons, locked up.
Verstappen, meanwhile, sits in third place in the driver standings with 162 points and two victories, which he has earned in the last three races, despite the fact Red Bull Racing trail Scuderia Ferrari for second in the constructor standings by a sizable 44-point margin (261 to 217). He is the only driver who has not finished a race outside of the top five so far this season, and his top five finish streak is now at 20 races.
Will Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton end up being teammates at Mercedes in the 2020 Formula 1 season, or will Verstappen return to Red Bull Racing? With they ever be teammates with one another? If not, who will Hamilton’s teammate be next year and beyond?