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Pre-Budapest analysis - Hamilton unfazed by Vettel speculation

25 Jul 2014

So what might you do to destabilise one of your primary rivals, on the eve of a race that he’s won four times since his debut here in 2007?

Well, you could suggest to media sources that his job might be on the line.

According to quotes attributed to Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, Sebastian Vettel has received a big money offer to go to Mercedes when his contract with the Milton Keynes team expires in 2016. And Nico Rosberg recently extended his deal with the Stuttgart manufacturer to take it possibly as far as 2017.

So where might that leave pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton?

The Briton insisted yesterday that he isn’t worried about his long-term future, after years of waiting for just the right F1 car to come along, and that the speculation won’t detract from the job in hand this weekend.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "Another German driver? I'm not sure if that's something Mercedes would like. At the moment I'm here until the end of next year, so it's not going to be any time soon. But Mercedes are the best, so everyone is going to want to drive a Mercedes."

Given Mercedes’ current form it’s no surprise that he is ready to do a new deal with the team himself, and he says he doesn’t want to consider another team right now.

"I've shown an interest in sitting down and talking. We haven't sat down yet, but the team know I'd like to push to continue, and they have made clear they would like to do the same. I've been with Mercedes since I was 13, so I very much feel I've Mercedes imprinted on my chest. It's very much a family for me. You never know what's going to happen in the future, but I can't particularly see myself anywhere else.”

But if Mercedes were to consider Vettel?

“If they happen to want someone else then I'm not going to whinge about it. There are places for everyone."

Vettel, meanwhile, merely said: "I think any offer is to be considered, but nothing has changed. So I still don't talk about these things. I don't know which sources Helmut has or doesn't have. But they seem to vary."

It’s worth noting that in 2012 Hamilton had talks with Red Bull here in an attempt to seek new pastures for 2013 while he was in the transitory stage of leaving McLaren. And that Fernando Alonso did likewise here last year, earning a stinging public rebuke from Luca di Montezemolo when Ferrari’s president discovered that he was considering leaving the Scuderia.

Teams and drivers talk all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that anything will actually happen. Both factions need to know how the market is moving and what individual parties want or might consider.

David Tremayne