Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen (left) and Lewis Hamilton, archrivals and dominant F1 drivers. Recent reports linked the Mercedes driver to a move to Red Bull, but Hamilton has stoutly denied it. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will make a dream team, which is why the Formula One circles are rife with reports of a possible link-up between two dominant drivers. The only problem is that Red Bull’s Verstappen and Mercedes’ Hamilton have poured cold water on the idea ahead of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

The rumour sprung from reports in the British media, which quoted Red Bull boss Christian Horner saying that Hamilton’s management team had reached out to him. “They have reached out a few times. Most recently, earlier in the year, there was an inquiry about whether there would be any interest [about Hamilton joining the team],” Horner told the Daily Mail newspaper.

During Thursday’s press meet in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton dismissed Horner’s claims, saying, “I don’t really know where that story has come from. No one, as far as I’m aware, from my team has spoken to him [Horner]. I haven’t spoken to Christian in years.”

What Horner and Hamilton said

Contrary to Horner’s claims, Hamilton said the Red Bull boss had reached out to the seven-time world champion to discuss the possibility of meeting up at the end of the season.

A Sky Sports report quoted Hamilton saying that he found a message from Horner on an old phone where Horner asked him to meet up. “I switched it on, and obviously hundreds of messages came through, and I realised there was one from Christian (asking) to get together and have a chat at the end of the season,” he said.

“It was from earlier on in the year. It was months later, I just said: ‘Congratulations on the amazing season and I hope we are able to compete with you soon. That was it. So I’m not really sure; I think he’s just stirring things,” Hamilton said.

Another report said an approach may have been made to Hamilton without the knowledge of the Briton. According to a BBC report, a Red Bull spokesperson said Hamilton’s father made direct contact with Horner, although he’s not involved in his son’s management team.

Verstappen shrugged it off at the Abu Dhabi press conference when asked whether he would like to team up with Hamilton in the future. “It’s not happening. There’s no point to make up stories if it’s not happening,” was the immediate response of the Dutch driver who won his third successive title.

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After a pause, he added: “I wouldn’t mind; it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to put it particularly on Lewis [Hamilton]. There are so many great drivers, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out like that.”

Verstappen, 26, takes to the Yas Marina circuit, seeking his fourth Abu Dhabi title. “Abu Dhabi always brings back good memories for me and the team,” the Dutchman said as he pursued his 54th career title, which will put him ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton, 38, the most successful driver in Abu Dhabi with five wins, will want to end his win drought, which has extended to a second straight season. Mercedes extended his contract to the end of 2025 in August despite his barren run.