Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner insists that the defending champions 'aren't looking to sign Lewis Hamilton' despite speculation that a difficult season at McLaren could see him evaluating his options for the future.
Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button appear to be facing a difficult 2011 season after McLaren's new MP4-26 endured a difficult pre-season, with the car failing to show either the pace or reliability of its rivals.
Barring an upturn in fortunes when the paddock arrives at Albert Park for the opening round of the year, McLaren could find itself in a similar situation to 2009, when it managed just 14 points from the first nine races of the year before a late resurgence saw the team rebound to third in the constructors' championship.
With Hamilton out of contract at the end of next season, and Red Bull's Mark Webber on a year-to-year contract, the Briton could be an attractive option for any team on the grid if he becomes disillusioned with life at McLaren but Horner said there was currently no interest in the 2008 title winner.
"Lewis is a great driver, a former world champion and one of the best there is," he told the Press Association
when asked if he expected to be linked with Hamilton if McLaren doesn't deliver this year. "You would think he is not going to be happy if he has another barren year, but that's not to say we are looking for Lewis to come to our team.
"We're very happy with the two drivers we currently have, but it's more of a question you're going to need to ask Lewis than certainly I can answer for you."
Horner's comments come after Sebastian Vettel thrashed out a new deal with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz which will see him stay with the team until 2014, and just a day after Hamilton announced a new deal which will see him managed by entertainment mogul Simon Fuller – with the Red Bull principal admitting it was interesting to see the different approach taken by the young pair.
Hamilton at least now has someone on whom he can rely when it comes to any future deal negotiations, although that is in stark contrast to Vettel.
Horner has revealed Vettel sat down personally with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and thrashed out a pay rise and new contract that ties him to the team through to the end of 2014 without the help of a manager or agent.