Jan.27 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton’s teammate is his “only opponent” in Formula 1, according to Max Verstappen.
In recent days, rumours have emerged from Italy suggesting that six-time world champion Hamilton has upped the stakes in his negotiations with Mercedes over 2021 and beyond.
Corriere dello Sport reportedly claims that the 35-year-old wants his retainer to be raised to a staggering EUR 60 million (US $66m) per year, and as a sweetener is offering to become a Mercedes ambassador after he retires.
But that is at odds with new Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius’ reported desire to cut costs by a billion dollars by 2022. Mercedes is believed to instead be offering Hamilton a new two-year deal at EUR 45 million per season.
Indeed, team boss Toto Wolff was quoted last week as saying: “While I still very much hope that our relationship continues, I am not totally in control of that.”
Spain’s AS newspaper thinks it is all a prelude to a fascinating driver ‘silly season’ this year, with Daniel Ricciardo tipped to leave Renault and Fernando Alonso to potentially replace the Australian.
Verstappen, who was linked with Mercedes until he recently signed a new deal through 2023 with Red Bull, said of Hamilton: “Lewis has not had the best teammates in recent years.
“If you have the right car you can beat everyone. Hamilton is an exceptional driver, one of the best who has raced in Formula 1, but he also has the best car,” said the Dutchman.
“And when you have the dominant car, your teammate is your only opponent.”