Lewis Hamilton has hit out at Red Bull as 'just a drinks company' and warned the defending F1 champions that McLaren will do all it can to reclaim the championship crowns this season.
McLaren has endured a difficult pre-season with the new MP4-26 although a series of dramatic changes are taking place with the car before the season opener in Australia this weekend [See separate story HERE
With the possibility that Hamilton could face a struggle this season if McLaren is unable to resolve the current issues it faces with the new car, speculation has suggested that the Briton could look elsewhere for a drive when his current deal with the Woking-based team ends – with Red Bull being seen as one obvious destination.
However, Hamilton has now hit out at Red Bull ahead of the new season and insisted that the racing outfit for the drinks company won't continue to dominate in the same way as it did last season.
In total, Red Bull secured 15 pole positions and nine victories en-route to both titles in 2010.
"I am 100 per cent certain that neither McLaren nor Ferrari will ever let that happen," Hamilton told the Guardian
in reference to Red Bull continuing to lead the way in the long-term. "They [Red Bull] have not been there as long as our teams. Our teams have got status they would like to keep.
"For many, many years it has been McLaren and Ferrari at the front and now we have got a new team that has come and knocked us off the top. But I am really certain that either team will do absolutely everything in their power to make sure they can remain at the top.
"Red Bull are not a manufacturer, they are a drinks company. It's a drinks company versus McLaren/Ferrari history. I don't know what their plan is. Our team is building to become a bigger manufacturer, like Ferrari, and I can only see our team being there for a ridiculous amount of time. It is a pure-bred racing team."
Hamilton also warned Red Bull that, even if McLaren are off the pace this weekend at Albert Park, he shouldn't be counted out of the race for the championship.
"As an athlete, as a competitor, optimism is something you have to hold,” he said. “You always have to have that. I'm never one to give up. I'm not going to sit here and say 'the championship is over, blah, blah, blah'.
“I'm ready and when the car is ready I will be at the front and I will win races. Just because we don't have a winning car right now, that doesn't mean it won't become a world championship-winning car. We'll see."