1997 Formula 1 World Champion has admitted that Lewis Hamilton had no choice but to “negate” the rumour that he spoke to Red Bull earlier this season, given that talking to other teams whilst under contract is “not allowed”.
Ahead of the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told the Daily Mail that a member of Hamilton’s entourage spoke to him earlier this year, in regard to a possible switch.
Hamilton was surrounded by several rumours regarding moves elsewhere during 2023, as his current contract expires at the end of this year.
He was most linked to Ferrari, who reportedly put an offer on the table directly from the side’s chairman, John Elkann.
All speculation over Hamilton’s future ended ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, though, where it was confirmed that he’d signed a two-year extension with Mercedes.
As a result, Horner’s comments came as a shock, although Hamilton immediately denied the rumour that someone from his team spoke to Red Bull.
It was later revealed that it was Hamilton’s father, Anthony Hamilton, who spoke to Horner; however, he’s not been part of the seven-time World Champion’s team since 2010.
Hamilton stressed in Abu Dhabi that Horner was “just stirring things” and that it was actually the Red Bull boss who contacted him, something he discovered after turning on an old phone.
Max Verstappen was asked about the rumour of Hamilton talking to Horner, only to refuse to discuss it as it’ll likely never happen.
Regardless, Villeneuve admitted that “talks always happen” in the paddock despite it not being allowed when under contract, with the Canadian noting that it’s normal to then deny everything if the discussions surface.
“It gets a lot of print!” Villeneuve told PlanetF1.com.
“As a driver, you’re not allowed to talk to other teams while you’re under contract and all that. But talks always happen.
“Obviously, you cross people in the paddock or, sometimes, you’ll use someone who doesn’t work for you, but will still do the talk so you’re protected.
“But, if the noise comes out, you have to negate it. Then who’s there to check?”