In a surprising revelation, Christian Horner, the team principal of Red Bull, has disclosed that the team had entertained the idea of signing Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion.
As, arguably, two of the sport’s most talented and competitive drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s battles on the track have become the focal point of Formula 1 from time to time, shaping the narrative of each race and adding an extra layer of excitement to the sport, especially in 2021, the year that Verstappen claimed the F1 title.
What if then, they could’ve been teammates?
The rivalry between Hamilton and Verstappen stems from their contrasting styles and generational clash. Hamilton, a seven-time World Champion and one of the most successful drivers in Formula One history, represents the old guard, while Verstappen, an emerging star and a prodigious talent, represents the new wave of young drivers pushing the boundaries.
The Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry reached a fever pitch during the 2021 season. With Verstappen driving for Red Bull Racing and Hamilton for Mercedes, the championship battle became a head-to-head contest between the two. Their clashes on the track have been fierce, with incidents and controversies sparking debates among fans and pundits.
British GP clash
The rivalry has not been without controversy, with incidents such as their collision at the 2021 British Grand Prix resulting in heated debates and differing opinions.
Hamilton reflected on the incident that occurred as Hamilton and Verstappen fought for the lead on the first lap at Silverstone, resulting in Verstappen’s Red Bull crashing into the barriers at high speed.
Hamilton was handed a 10-second penalty for the collision, which caused a red flag and sent Verstappen to the hospital for precautionary checks. Despite the setback, Hamilton staged a remarkable comeback through the field and ultimately secured victory ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Hamilton recalls: “I had to get ahead somehow,”
“We were dicing through three, four all the way down into five where I think he ran me a little bit wide. Came back on him [and] got the exit off seven. We collided. That’s what happens in racing sometimes. It’s what motorsport sometimes entails.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 17, 2023
Horner: Respect for Hamilton
Acknowledging Hamilton’s exceptional talent, Horner expressed his hope that the Mercedes star will continue to compete in Formula 1 for many years to come. While there may have been occasional discussions about Hamilton joining Red Bull in the past, there have been no recent attempts to bring him on board.
“Lewis is obviously a great driver,” he says. “Hopefully, he’ll be around for many years to come.
“There’s been a couple of occasions in history that we’ve had a couple of conversations about the possibility of joining Red Bull, but that’s not been anytime recently.”
The incident had significant implications for the championship battle, as Verstappen went on to win the title in controversial circumstances at the final race of the season. At the time, the collision at Silverstone resulted in a 25-point swing in the championship standings.
Hamilton Verstappen teammates?
While Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been fierce rivals on the track, they could have been teammates had circumstances played out differently according to Christian Horner, the Red Bull boss.
Whilst the rivalry between Verstappen and Hamilton was significant for the aforementioned British Grand Prix in 2021, reached its peak later that year for the Championship finale when Verstappen controversially secured his first F1 world championship in Abu Dhabi.
Since then, the Dutchman has continued to dominate the sport and is on track to claim his third consecutive title this season.
Horner reveals conversations with Hamilton
Horner’s comments shed light on the missed opportunity for Verstappen and Hamilton to join forces as teammates. Although Red Bull reportedly explored the possibility of signing Hamilton, it appears that the discussions did not progress beyond initial conversations however.
“It’s nothing that we’ve ever considered in the recent past,” Horner revealed. “Obviously, to pay for those two drivers in itself, we would probably have to sell the factory!”
The revelation adds an intriguing layer to the dynamic between Verstappen and Hamilton, as fans speculate on what could have been had they become teammates.