Hamilton: I could prove critics wrong with Verstappen as F1 team-mate

Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton believes it could be beneficial "in some ways" to have Max Verstappen join Mercedes to prove he can take on Verstappen in equal machinery

Hamilton: I could prove critics wrong with Verstappen as F1 team-mate

Verstappen, who has won seven races since joining Red Bull in 2016, has a contract that runs through '20, but it is understood there are performance clauses that could allow for the deal to be terminated early.

That has led to speculation that Verstappen is an outside contender to replace Valtteri Bottas when the Mercedes driver's current deal runs out at the end of the season.

Hamilton has made it clear he would be glad to see Bottas remain at Mercedes, but he has also said he would not be averse to partnering Verstappen.

"I'd honestly have no problem with it. As I said before, I like working with Valtteri and I don't know how that [Hamilton/Verstappen] dynamic would work for the team," Hamilton said when asked about the possibility ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"I'm not saying it would or would not - I see positives and potential negatives. Obviously, there are always positives and negatives to [the] people that you're working with, but I have no particular opinion towards it.

"In some ways, it works out for me. At the moment I see stories that it's because we have different cars and that's the only way [I'll beat him], but this gives me the opportunity to show you that's not the case."

Verstappen's 2019 form - he lies third in the drivers' standings with two wins and four podiums - has positioned him as one of the best performers of the current season.

Asked about claims he was now stronger than Hamilton, Verstappen said: "I don't say any of those things. And I also don't care. What is most important for me is that I perform on the track."

Verstappen is 63 points behind Hamilton after victory in the German Grand Prix, but he has reiterated that the win has not changed the title fight.

"With Mercedes having had such a dominant start to this season I think it is really hard to catch them," Verstappen said.

"We are going to try, but I am not thinking about the championship."

Hamilton said "time will tell" if Verstappen can become a title rival this year.

"I think they [Red Bull] have done a great job, they've clearly done a great job in quite a few of the races now," Hamilton said.

"In the last one we didn't do such a great job, we did a pretty bad job. It made their job look even better.

"But I think we've got to continue just to focus on ourselves, not be distracted by focusing on others.

"I think they'll be probably quick here [in Hungary], and there'll be places like Singapore where they'll probably be strong - but they are in general, collectively, slowly catching up.

"It's easier to catch up than it is to always stay ahead, to be the leader, in many different aspects. "I think it's great to see them progressing. We want the competition."

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