It is not good for Lewis Hamilton that his former teammate Nico Rosberg spoke highly of Max Verstappen this week. According to the German, the young Dutchman would be at the top of the World Cup position if he had the same car as Hamilton.
"I wouldn't mind having Max as a teammate," said Hamilton in Hungary, where the twelfth race of the year will be held on Sunday. In the previous eleven Grands Prix, Hamilton triumphed seven times, but after Verstappen won two of the last three races, the Limburger received much praise.
"I read stories that I only win, because Max and I have different cars. If he would become my teammate, I can prove that this is not the case," said the 34-year-old Brit.
Hamilton referred to a YouTube video from Rosberg, in which the German said that Verstappen is currently "simply the best driver". "He drives well ahead of the Ferraris, while they actually have a better car."
Rosberg was the last driver in 2016 to keep Hamilton away from the world title and he believes that Verstappen is capable of that. "If they were to drive the same car, I think Verstappen would now be in the World Cup position for Hamilton."
Former Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg. (Photo: Pro Shots)
There is little chance that Verstappen will leave Red Bull
The chance that Verstappen and Hamilton will drive for the same racing stable in the short term seems small. After his victories in Austria and Germany, there is little reason for Verstappen to leave Red Bull prematurely. His contract runs until the end of 2020.
"I would be fine if Max came to Mercedes," Hamilton said nonetheless. "I have said many times that I really enjoy working with my current teammate Valtteri Bottas."
"If Max were to come to Mercedes, that would change the dynamics of the team. I see advantages and potential negatives. But of course there are always those with the arrival of a new driver."
See also: Verstappen enjoyed 'very good teamwork' at pit stop record Red Bull
Compliment Rosberg leaves Verstappen cold
Verstappen accepted praise from single world champion Rosberg for notification. "I always stay neutral. I don't care if the comments are positive or negative."
The 21-year-old Limburger focuses exclusively on his performance on the job. "I just have to make sure that I accelerate on the circuit, that's the only thing that counts. Then I go home again. And then I come back for the next race."
"What the outside world says about me does not satisfy me. It is great that Rosberg says something like that. But it does not make me sleep better. Just like I do not sleep worse when someone is critical."
World Cup position after 11 of the 21 races
- 1. Hamilton (Mercedes) 225 points
- 2. Bottas (Mercedes) 184 points
- 3. Verstappen (Red Bull) 162 points
- 4. Vettel (Ferrari) 141 points
- 5. Leclerc (Ferrari) 120 points
- 6. Gasly (Red Bull) 55 points
Verstappen does not think about any world title
After Verstappen's victory in Germany, Hamilton's lead in the World Cup was reduced to 63 points. The Red Bul driver says he doesn't secretly hope for the world title. "I am not concerned about that at the moment. Mercedes still has the better car and I try to do it as well as possible in every race, nothing more."
Hamilton notes that the dominance of Mercedes from the beginning of the year is a thing of the past. "Ferrari and Red Bull are gradually getting closer. It is always easier to walk in than to extend a lead."
The Brit claims to be happy with the increased competition. "It's nice to see other teams making progress. I hope that now three teams can compete. It would be nice if the rest of the season was just as exciting as the last three races."
Verstappen and Hamilton may be competing for a victory in the Grand Prix of Hungary from 3.10 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturday at 12.00 the last training session starts at the Hungaroring, followed at 15.00 by the qualification.
See also: Five questions about GP Hungary: 'Everyone at Red Bull can smell opportunities'