With less than two months to go until lights out for the 2021 F1 season in Bahrain, speculation as to why Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes haven’t announced a contract extension has been mounting.
Most recently, it was reported that the seven-time World Champion is pushing for a so-called “Verstappen clause” in his contract to give him more influence over who Mercedes run as their second driver.
And now, Dutch racing driver Tom Coronel has claimed that the Mercedes F1 Team is “still very interested” in Max Verstappen, suggesting they are considering signing him should Hamilton decide not to yield.
“Mercedes is still very interested in Verstappen, they make no secret of it,” Coronel said in an interview with RacingNews365.
“We therefore know that there is regular contact,” he claimed.
Continuing, Coronel said that he would like to see Hamilton and Verstappen as Mercedes team-mates – and added that he believes the Dutch ace could beat the seven-time World Champion.
“Max vs Lewis, it will be equally exciting for both drivers,” he said.
“Max will certainly not miss Lewis, but he can beat him. He is young, fresh and fully focused.
“In addition, he has an unprecedented drive and the extreme will to win. Max has everything to win and is not a Champion yet – he will eventually be.”
Last week, ex-F1 driver Marc Surer told Formula1News.co.uk that he believes Verstappen would be faster than Hamilton at Mercedes, but the title fight would be very close.
“I think Verstappen is one of the fastest young drivers in Formula One, together with [Charles] Leclerc.
“So I think he will be faster than Hamilton, because Hamilton used to be… but after the age of 30 you start to lose a few hundredths of your speed. You will not notice it but this is the truth.
“But that doesn’t mean Verstappen would beat Lewis Hamilton easily, because if you look at the past, for example if you look at Prost-Lauda [when they were team-mates at McLaren]… Prost was clearly faster than Lauda, but Lauda in one year won the Championship by being clever and having a better strategy.
“So, with experience you can sometimes beat a younger, faster driver. The same also happened with Senna and Prost.
“So it’s not clear if Hamilton or Verstappen would win the Championship [as Mercedes team-mates.]”