Lewis Hamilton says Max Verstappen is among a number of his Formula 1 rivals to have approached Mercedes about the possibility of driving for the team in the future.

The six-time world champion and current Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas’ respective deals with the German manufacturer expire at the end of the 2020 season, while Verstappen’s Red Bull agreement ends at the same time.

Only Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and George Russell have contracts running into 2021 and beyond, with F1’s next regulation overhaul expected to result in a dramatic shake up in the driver market.

Speaking after Verstappen at the FIA’s prize giving ceremony in Paris, Hamilton, who himself has been linked with a switch to Ferrari, said: “It’s an interesting time because there’s a lot of people, a lot of drivers who are seeking positions everywhere.

“The amount of calls Toto gets from every driver including the one that was up here just recently asking to come.

“Everyone is trying to leave their team to come to where we are. Which is an understandable thing because everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to be part of a winning formula.”

When asked about his future and the prospect of seats being available at Mercedes and Ferrari in 2021, Verstappen replied: “To be honest I don’t really think about it too much. I know there are other possibilities after next year.

“I have one more year on the contract but I think what is more important is just to see what happens at the beginning of the season and then from there onwards we will see what happens.”

Hamilton insisted he has not put “a lot of energy” towards thinking about his future, adding he does not consider it a “stressful thing at the moment”.

“I love the people that I work with so it’s really difficult to walk away from something that you love as much as I do,” he explained. “The team, the organisation all the way through to the bosses.

“I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13, so it’s really hard to imagine myself being anywhere else. What we’ve built over the last period that I’ve been there the last seven years – obviously Mercedes have been working for longer than that – is at the moment kind of dominant, it’s a strong force.

“I think it’s taken us time to build that, to build the strength and depth from within and have the consistency we’ve had. It’s not something that’s just come overnight and other teams currently don’t have the elements that we have in place and it takes time to build those things.”

Hamilton also spoke about the influence Toto Wolff will have on his next career move, with the Austrian’s deal at Mercedes also coming to an end in 2020.

“Would it be the same without Toto? I don’t think so,” Hamilton said. “But he’s got to do what’s right for him.

“And just like I will know what’s right for me when I have to make the decision, he has to make the right decision first for him and what’s best for him, his family and his future.

“Change is also sometimes a good thing. There’s always a clear pathway of communication between myself and Toto, there’s never been any secrets, that won’t change.”

 

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