Mercedes could use Vettel as leverage in Hamilton contracts talks

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Mercedes could use the option of signing Sebastian Vettel as leverage in Lewis Hamilton's contract talks, David Coulthard claims.

The prospect of the four-time world champion joining the German manufacturer has been subject to debate since his departure from Ferrari after 2020 was announced two weeks ago.

It has even been suggested that Daimler, Mercedes' parent company, is keen to sign Vettel, but Hamilton and team boss Toto Wolff are pushing back as they favour retaining Valtteri Bottas.

One idea that hasn't been mooted is that of Seb replacing Lewis, who is out of contract himself after this year. But Coulthard doesn't think that should be ruled out either.

"Only Sebastian knows whether he has already decided he is retiring, or he is being courted by Mercedes as a serious option in the negotiation with Lewis?" the Scot pondered on the F1 Nation podcast.

"Because as much as they love Lewis, Mercedes and Toto [Wolff], they’re business people, they’re not charities. It’s not, ‘Oh Lewis, we love you so much, here’s a blank cheque, write the number in and we’ll work out how we manage to pay you that.’

"They’ll want to pay him the minimum they can to allow more money to invest in their business, and he [Hamilton], of course, will want the maximum.

"Now money is only one part of the negotiation. There will be other things."

Also stirring the pot on the Vettel/Mercedes speculation is Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

“If he wants to continue in F1 I’m sure he won’t be short of opportunities," he said of his former driver.

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“But he’s obviously decided that his time with Ferrari will end at the end of this year, so all we can do is wish him the very, very best for the future.

“Let’s not forget there’s a seat available at Mercedes next year, whether that would fit for both of those parties I don’t know," the Briton teased.

“These guys have got their reasons for it and I’m not privy to that. They’re grown-ups, they make their own decisions.”

One man though who has ruled out any possibility of Vettel teaming up with Hamilton is former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld.

“It is a shame, but going to Mercedes is not realistic,” he told Sky Sports Germany.

“It is interesting to hear that Toto Wolff analyses the qualities and not the nationality. A German team, of course, would like to have Vettel for marketing, but in my opinion Hamilton and Vettel will never be able to share a team.

“It is not ideal for Vettel, but it would not be good for Hamilton to have such a teammate either.

“Mercedes wouldn’t want the two to be together either as that causes a lot of commotion and I just don’t see what’s going to happen.

“But we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I haven’t talked to Vettel, so I don’t know what he’s going to do.”