Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has ruled out singing Lewis Hamilton, as the seven-time world champion decides where his future in Formula 1 will be.
Hamilton is in the final year of his contract at Mercedes and has been in talks with Toto Wolff over a new deal since last season.
But, Mercedes‘ poor start to 2023 has led to question marks over whether Hamilton will stay with the team for 2024 and beyond, with Wolff revealing he would hold no grudges if his driver left, should they not build a more competitive car.
“What Lewis has achieved in Formula 1 is second to none but we are very happy with the drivers we have,” Horner told Sky News.
“They are committed as a pair for not only this season, but the next season as well. I can’t see where we would be able to accommodate Lewis.
“I’m sure they [Mercedes] will sort their issues out and we are certainly not writing him off yet.”
Horner expects field to converge during 2023
Red Bull have had the perfect start to the 2023 F1 season, with back-to-back 1-2s at the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
It’s the RB19‘s race pace which has been ominous for the rest of the field, but Horner is taking nothing for granted due to the development race, which may bring their rivals closer.
“The regulations are still relatively young so I’m expecting to see a lot of convergence over the course of the year,” explained Horner.
“The grid is going to tighten up, so we need to make hay whilst the sun shines at the moment when we have got a competitive car.”
“Some of the racing has been fantastic. We saw a great race at the weekend between our drivers.
“If you do have two dominant cars then I think that does create a spectacle in itself. I have no doubt the opposition will be coming back quickly and aggressively, especially as we come back into the European season where updates start to come through.
“We are hearing about big Mercedes upgrades, I’m sure Ferrari aren’t happy with their current position as well, so we are fully expecting things to converge quickly.”
Horner: Healthy respect between Verstappen and Perez
The Saudi Arabian GP saw Perez beat Verstappen, albeit after a tense radio exchange when the Dutchman appeared to ignore the team by not hitting their target times and going for the fastest lap of the race.
Verstappen reported a suspected drivetrain problem which led to Red Bull telling both drivers to aim for a target lap time, however, he did not listen to the team.
Horner says Red Bull will ensure they give equal opportunity to Verstappen and Perez.
“For us, as a team, the responsibility is to give the drivers the same chance, the same opportunity, the same car,” said Horner. “Then it’s down to what they can do on the circuit.
“We have two great drivers. There’s a healthy respect between the two of them and I expect that to continue.”