Villeneuve: Verstappen wants Hamilton as next Red Bull F1 team-mate

Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Max Verstappen would want Lewis Hamilton as his Red Bull team-mate in order to achieve his “ultimate goal”.

Pole man Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, receives his Pirelli Pole Position Award from Jacques Villeneuve

Verstappen and Hamilton have the highest profile rivalry on the grand prix grid, with the tension between the pair peaking in 2021 as they fought for the drivers’ championship.

They notably collided at Silverstone, Interlagos, Monza and Jeddah before the controversial decider and mishandling of a late safety car procedure by the FIA in the Abu Dhabi finale.

Despite this heated past, 1997 F1 title winner Villeneuve thinks Verstappen wants Hamilton as his Red Bull team-mate to show the world he can beat the seven-time champion.

Speaking exclusively to Autosport at Heineken’s Player 0.0 event at Zandvoort, Villeneuve made of the second seat at Red Bull: “I don’t think [the team] care [who it is]. They have Max.

“So, right now, Max can win like this. They are easily in front, they get all the image they want, why should they care?

“Put a young guy there that wants to show he’s the new world leader and stirs the pot.

“I think Max would probably want Lewis… so he can show the world he can beat Lewis.

“That would be his ultimate goal. So, that’s probably something he would want, but I’m not sure if Red Bull would want that. I don’t know.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Amid Verstappen taking control of last weekend’s Dutch round to score a record-equalling ninth GP win in a row, Villeneuve said there is no point in complaining about the two-time defending champion’s current monopoly.

Villeneuve continued: “He is better than the rest. That’s it. There’s no point saying it’s harmful.

“It’s not the rules that make him the best. He is the best. People should be happy and proud of that.

“It used to be Lewis and Mercedes [who earned a drivers’ and teams’ title double between 2014 and 2020], and nobody complained.

“So why didn’t people complain about Lewis, but complain now about Max?

“I don’t understand the concept there.”

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Former Williams, BAR, Renault and Sauber driver Villeneuve also reckoned that people needed to look past Verstappen’s run of form to see that F1 is “so close” and the “best it’s ever been”.

“It’s Max who is dominating. It’s not Red Bull,” said the Canadian. “We’ve never had F1 so close. If you look first [place] to 12th, sometimes it’s a second, two seconds [gap].

“It’s never been like that in history and people complain. This is the best it’s ever, ever been.”

Hamilton is widely expected to renew terms with Mercedes for 2024 and beyond, having long stated his loyalty to the team.

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