Lewis Hamilton was quick to dismiss speculation that blew up this weekend in the F1 paddock suggesting that Sebastian Vettel
might be looking at a move to the Mercedes team when his time at Red Bull
Racing is up.
The rumours started up at the Circuit de Catalunya
in Barcelona, and centred on the suggestion that Mercedes' non-executive chairman Niki Lauda had already approached the reigning world champion in an attempt to lure him to the Brackley-based team once his RBR contract expires at the end of 2014.
Hamilton's own contract with Mercedes is three years in total, taking him through to the end of the 2015 season.
Lauda was previously the driving force behind the team's raid on McLaren
for the services of Lewis Hamilton, but Hamilton himself dismissed out of hand the gossip about the possibility of Vettel joining the team.
"It's not something I need to think about, because it's not going to happen," the English driver told the Daily Telegraph
newspaper ahead of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
"It doesn't affect me in the slightest. Why should it?" he added, shrugging aside the suggestion that he wouldn't tolerate being paired with Vettel in the same team, or that Mercedes might not need him anymore if it had Vettel on board. "I'm comfortable where I am. I have a solid contract and a great lawyer, as have Mercedes."
Lauda himself also rejected suggestions that he and Vettel were in negotiations: "We're not trying to get him as he has signed a contract with Red Bull
until for ever," said Lauda, although without ruling out the possibility that Mercedes might swoop should Vettel ever be on the market
However, Lauda insisted: "With Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
we have the best pairing in F1. The two push each other forward positively," he added, pointing to the success that the pair had in locking up the front row in qualifying on Saturday in Spain.
Hamilton's early F1 career was famously marked by a serious clash with Fernando Alonso
when the two drivers were paired at McLaren. Alonso didn't take kindly to a rookie being accorded equal footing within the team, while Hamilton gave the world champion little reverence as he made his mark in the sport from the very first race.
Even though the two have since patched up their relationship, that early acrimony meant that suggestions last year that Hamilton might replace Felipe Massa
were always a non-started.
Vettel has also been linked to a possible move to Maranello when his current contract expires, but the team had been publicly less than thrilled with the notion and Ferrari
president Luca di Montezemolo particularly against the idea of trying to balance the egos of two world champions within one claustrophobic F1 garage.
Whether the Mercedes management thinks that they can pull it off and contain both Vettel and Hamilton to championship-winning effect remains to be seen, but it would be a massive gamble - and not one that comes cheap, either.