Could Sebastian Vettel be the ideal teammate for Lewis Hamilton?
Four-time world champion could partner Hamilton at Mercedes from 2021
Sebastian Vettel’s final season in a Ferrari will get underway in Austria at The Red Bull Ring from Friday 3th July, where he’s 5/1 to claim his 54th career win.
Upon the season’s completion, the four-time world champion will part ways with The Prancing Horse, making way for Carlos Sainz Jr to partner Charles Leclerc from the 2021 season.
With Mercedes’ number two driver Valtteri Bottas’ contract due to expire at the end of the current season, could Vettel be the perfect teammate to Lewis Hamilton for the AMG-Mercedes Formula One team?
We look at some of the key points for and against the German driver’s claim for the number two seat at Mercedes in 2021.
Hamilton and Vettel have had some intense battles on track before, but rarely have the two come to blows.
As is natural in a highly competitive environment, some battles have spilled over. The most memorable of which came in Azerbaijan in 2017 when Vettel sideswiped Hamilton after claims of ‘brake checking’ behind the safety car.
But for the most part, you only ever hear of admiration for one another, a somewhat friendly and mature relationship between the pair.
Hamilton has had similar before with Nico Rosberg. The pair grew up driving through the ranks together, teammates in their karting careers before eventually winding up on the same Mercedes team for the 2013 season.
Their ‘friendship’ and respect would soon turn to an inter-team rivalry, both fighting for the championship year on year in one of the best cars in this modern turbo-hybrid formula one era.
Would that happen again with the two most successful drivers on the grid? Maturity would play a huge part. Hamilton is now 35 and Vettel’s fast approaching 33, both drivers are reaching the ends of their careers. Would they risk a disastrous inter-team battle to end their careers on a sour note?
German Silver Arrows driver
When Valtteri Bottas was signed as Nico Rosberg’s replacement for the 2017 campaign, it was the end of an era for Mercedes-Benz F1.
It was the first time they’d lined up on the grid without a German representative in their history. Back in the 1950s, Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling and Hermann Lang took their seat in the Silver Arrows’ history books.
Michael Schumacher and Rosberg formed an all-German line-up on their return to the sport, before Schumacher retired for good in 2012, allowing Hamilton to fill his seat.
But with Bottas’ seat not secure for the 2021 season yet and Vettel’s sudden availability, could he be the latest German representative for the Silver Arrows?
With four world titles of his own, he’d form a formidable, frightful partnership with Hamilton on paper, in what has been the only team to win a title in the latest generation of F1 cars.
He’d bring 53 wins of his own to the team, behind only Schumacher and Hamilton in the all-time list, as well as 57 pole positions, where he sits fourth behind the great Ayrton Senna too.
Second fiddle to Hamilton?
Although there aren’t too many options for Vettel on the grid in 2021, the Mercedes seat isn’t guaranteed either, both in terms of the team wanting Vettel, and the German wanting the team.
As the current Formula One world champion, Lewis Hamilton is the first-choice driver for Mercedes, and it’s unlikely any name that comes in would take that title from him.
With Vettel having four titles of his own, is he likely to accept the role of second-choice driver? Mercedes have never officially stated Hamilton is number one, and it’s rare that team orders to come into play, but it’s hard to ignore that fact the Brit has won five of the last six titles with the team.
It’s reported that Vettel couldn’t come to an agreement with Ferrari to extend his contract, after the Italian team were eager for him to accept a huge pay cut, up to two-thirds of his reported £35m-a-year contract.
Bottas’ current contract is believed to stand at around £7m-a-year, a fifth of Vettel’s. It seems unlikely that Mercedes would offer anywhere near Vettel’s current salary to fill their second seat.
But could the strong lure of one last fight for a fifth championship in the strongest car on the grid encourage the German to make the switch, even with a paycut?
All odds and markets are correct as of date of publication.