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Hamilton 'happy to take on anyone' at Mercedes

15 Dec 2016

Lewis Hamilton says he would have no personal objections to partnering the likes of Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso at Mercedes - but says the team's decision needs to factor in more than just driver talent.

Speaking to UK F1 broadcaster Channel 4, Hamilton stressed that his only concern would be not the stature of his future team mate, but the effect they would have on team harmony at the Silver Arrows. His four-year spell alongside Nico Rosberg was often fractious and tense, but never spilled into outright acrimony - unlike, for example, his year alongside Alonso at McLaren in 2007.

"I recently [saw] comments online saying 'Lewis doesn't care who his team mate is', which is a little bit out of context," Hamilton explained.

"It is important who we have in the second car - important for team morale. We've seen in other teams and times where it can be a poisonous effect on a team, the arch rivalry between drivers. And so for sure that's really important, because I'm really happy here, I love being where I am. 

"Okay there have been some interesting scenarios, we generally always pull through - so we have to make sure that whatever we bring is at least as good as what we had, if not better, in terms of creating that energy.

"I've had experiences with certain individuals in the past which I would strongly advise not in a team, to have that scenario. But what I meant is I will drive against any single driver you want. 

"Ultimately when they [Mercedes] decide, they can put any driver they want - bring Sebastian, bring Fernando, bring whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year, and beat him, so that's not a worry for me. 

"I am happy to drive against any of them. But in terms of what is best for the team, probably not the best ideas."

Hamilton also explained that he has no direct control over Mercedes' choice, although the team are obliged to discuss their options with him.

"Contractually what they have to do - once they've dwindled [the shortlist] down to five drivers or whatever - they have to discuss with me," he added. "But I don't have a say who it is."

Speculation about Hamilton's team mate in 2017 has been rife ever since Rosberg announced his shock retirement just days after clinching the 2016 championship crown last month.

Williams' Valtteri Bottas has emerged as one of the leading candidates - particularly after Alonso moved to rule out a switch from McLaren to Mercedes.