Hamilton’s Mercedes contract was due to run out at the end of this season and, despite insisting his future was always with Toto Wolff’s team, it appears he had been gauging the interest of other teams.
Mercedes have struggled the past two seasons, with their performances a far cry from the six championship titles won with Hamilton in the space of seven years. And at the age of 38, Hamilton is certainly in the twilight of his career.
He is currently tied with racing legend Michael Schumacher on seven championship wins and, on current form, would not reach eight with Mercedes. This is perhaps why he had been holding discussions with rival teams, as confirmed by Horner.
“We have had several conversations over the years about Lewis joining,” the Red Bull team principal told the Daily Mail. “They have reached out a few times. Most recently, earlier in the year, there was an inquiry about whether there would be any interest.
“He met John Elkann (Ferrari chairman), too. I think there were serious talks. “It was around Monaco (in May). There were definitely conversations, perhaps with Vasseur, too. But certainly with Elkann.”
But if there was any notion of Hamilton and Max Verstappen teaming up, Horner put that theory to bed right away. He added: “But I can’t see Max and Lewis working out together. The dynamic wouldn’t be right. We are 100 percent happy with what we have.”
Horner’s revelation comes after Hamilton signed a deal to stay at Mercedes well into his 40s. Earlier in the season, potentially at a time when he was sounding out rival teams, Hamilton said: “I’m thinking long term. I don’t want to stay here for another year. I want to stay longer.”
Hamilton eventually committed to Mercedes in August and said: “Mercedes is my home and I couldn’t be happier to be staying here for another three years.”
He added: “I definitely wanted to continue,” he said. “I mean, I think in life you have ups and downs. I think last year everyone [at Mercedes] was questioning whether they wanted to continue. It’s such a tough sport. But I think that thought quickly went away. I’m proud of the way we pushed through it and while we didn’t start this season the way we wanted we are currently second in the championship.”