‘Hamilton versus Verstappen in equal machinery would be box-office’

Lewis Hamilton going head-to-head with Max Verstappen in equal machinery would be “box-office” for F1. 
(L to R): Winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in Sprint parc ferme with second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
(L to R): Winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in Sprint parc ferme…

That is a commonly-held view up and down the F1 paddock, and one shared by ex-driver-turned pundit Anthony Davidson. 

The prospect of Hamilton and Verstappen renewing their F1 rivalry and forming a superteam has long been considered the stuff of fan fiction, but it was brought into the headlines on the eve of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

F1 media were sent into overdrive by Christian Horner’s stunning revelation in an interview published on Wednesday that a representative of Hamilton had approached Red Bull earlier this year before the seven-time world champion signed his two-year contract renewal with Mercedes. 

As incredible a story it would be for F1, Davidson cannot ever see it coming to fruition. 

“How tantalising is it for all of us to dream about that scenario unfolding?” Davidson told Sky. 

“Of course it would be box-office stuff. Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton in equal machinery. 

‘Hamilton versus Verstappen in equal machinery would be box-office’

“We’d have loved to have been it when the Mercedes was the dominant car, and we’d love to see it now in this new era of ground-effect F1, with Red Bull dominating. 

“We’d love to see those two go head-to-head. Unfortunately though, the realist in me steps in and says ‘I can’t see that happening’. 

“Red Bull is very much Max Verstappen’s team. I’m sure Lewis Hamilton would love to drive alongside him, just to have that chance of winning that eighth drivers’ world championship that he oh so wants and so nearly got here in Abu Dhabi in 2021 of course. 

“From a drivers’ point of view, it’s simple. ‘Yeah, I’m not afraid to drive against Max Verstappen’. And Max Verstappen is not afraid to drive against Lewis Hamilton. 

“They believe they are the best in the business and why would they be afraid to go head-to-head against one of their strongest competitors in the field in equal machinery. 

“But from a teams’ perspective, it’s a bit more tricky than that. You want to steer away from that intense competition. 

“We’ve seen it in the past with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren, we’ve seen it with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. On both of those occasions it came to blows on the track. It’s not good for the team, you throwaway points on a regular basis. 

“It’s something that we would love to see, but for the team bosses, it’s not, unfortunately, necessarily the right circumstance.”

What have the drivers said? 

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing in the FIA Press Conference. Formula…

While Hamilton denied Horner’s claim, he insisted he would welcome going up against Verstappen in equal machinery. 

"100%. I’d be more than happy to race against him in an equal car,” the Briton said. 

"For me, Red Bull has done an amazing job and is an amazing team. Any driver would love to drive for such a great group of people. I think moving from a car that’s not so great to a winning car is not a dream.

"A dream is to start from where we are, and build up to then winning. That’s why I have stayed with Mercedes.”

Verstappen was less keen to get involved in the hypothetical prospect. 

"I don't know because it's not happening,” the triple world champion said. There’s no point to make up stories 'if, if'. It's not happening.” 

Pushed more on whether he would want to be Hamilton’s teammate, Verstappen added: "I wouldn't mind. It doesn't matter, anyone. 

“I don't want to put it particularly on Lewis. There are so many great drivers as well. Sometimes it doesn't work out like that.”

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