The 2023 Formula 1 season has been done and dusted, and there is much anticipation in the air about how much things will change next season. While all the driver lineups have already been confirmed, Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton admitted he'd "love" to drive Max Verstappen's phenomenal Red Bull car. However, this does not mean that he would want to leave Mercedes.
The seven-time world champion has been embroiled in a he-said-she-said battle of words with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner over the past several weeks. Horner claimed that someone in Hamilton's team (which he later claimed to be the driver's father, Anthony Hamilton) approached him and showed interest in driving for Red Bull before he signed his two-year contract extension with Mercedes earlier this year.
Hamilton has since denied that claim and made it clear that he never tried to join Red Bull. However, he admitted during one of the interviews during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend that he would love to try driving Max Verstappen's championship-winning car. In fact, he boldly suggested that every single driver would probably love to drive the extremely dominant Red Bull.
"Let's be realistic. Every single driver that's racing here dreams of being in the winning car. In my younger days, when I hadn't had a lot of success, maybe in the McLaren days, maybe it would have been a lot more attractive," he said.
He spoke on behalf of everyone on the grid and said that Red Bull's phenomenal season is something that everyone would like to experience. It may be remembered that the team won all the races in 2023 except for one. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz won in Singapore, while Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez won in Jeddah and Baku. The flying Dutchman clinched victory in each of the remaining nineteen races.
"Every driver here looks at the Red Bull car and would love to drive that car. I'm not saying I wouldn't love to drive that car and experience how good that car is - every driver would feel that," said Hamilton. However, despite his admission, he clarified that he would prefer to help Mercedes build a car that could beat the Red Bull instead of switching sides himself.
He said: "It wouldn't do much for me in the sense of stepping into the most dominant car of all time. Working with my team to be able to beat them would be better for my legacy for sure."
Hamilton insisted that his contract renewal proves his commitment to Mercedes, and that his legacy with the team is more important than simply jumping ship to get in the most dominant car.
He recalled how he made the move from McLaren to Mercedes after having already won his first Drivers' World Championship title with the latter. He said that moving from a more dominant team and then later on winning with Mercedes gave him more satisfaction and gave a "better feeling".
Mercedes endured two miserable seasons in 2022 and 2023, but they sealed second place in the Constructors' Championship this year despite both drivers remaining winless. Team principal Toto Wolff said that they are going for a complete overhaul in 2024 in order to try to catch up with Red Bull. "We are changing the concept. We are completely moving away from how we laid out the chassis, the weight distribution, the airflow," he said, adding: "I mean, literally, there's almost every component that's being changed because only by doing that, I think we have a chance."
However, he admitted that the strategy is a big risk, and they can also end up throwing all the progress they made in 2023 down the drain. They have retained their current driver lineup until 2025, and it remains to be seen if the risks will pay off.