JONATHAN McEVOY: Would Sebastian Vettel REALLY want to team up with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes? Toto Wolff is ‘considering’ forming a dream team… but going head-to-head in the same car could open Vettel up to pain
- Sportsmail revealed that Mercedes are monitoring Sebastian Vettel’s situation
- The four-time world champion is to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season
- Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff could form a dream team with Lewis Hamilton
Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team principal, has said he is taking Sebastian Vettel’s availability next season into ‘consideration’, raising the possibility of a high-powered Vettel-Lewis Hamilton partnership.
I wonder how Wolff’s comments were received by Hamilton, lying low in America? Did he ponder why his boss was being so effusive about a rival? Wolff went so far as describing Vettel as a ‘great driver, a major personality and an asset to any Formula One team’.
Probably, yes, because this level of overt wooing is strikingly rare. He may have felt wounded by the hosannas for someone who remains, to the end of the year, a Ferrari-paid rival.
Mercedes are looking at the potential to partner Lewis Hamilton (right) with Sebastian Vettel
The two have been bitter rivals for years but Hamilton has excelled while Vettel faded at Ferrari
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has revealed they are taking Vettel into ‘consideration’
Beyond the surprise, though, would the six-time champion really mind being paired with Vettel, the four-time champion? Not if he thinks, as he surely does, that he could beat him, perhaps convincingly.
If he were to do so, it would be another measure of his supremacy in the era.
But I wonder whether Vettel would be so keen going head-to-head with the Brit in equal machinery. Yes, it would be a fresh challenge and he could bank a big salary at a major German brand – but also open him up to potential pain.
Vettel, if Mercedes approached him, would need to decide if he really wanted to join them
Partnering with Hamilton, who is chasing a seventh world title, could bring potential pain
The two men are opposites in many ways. Hamilton is into fashion and music, hinterlands he will no doubt slide further into as his racing career closes.
Vettel lives quietly with his wife, his children, his dog and his lawnmower outside Zurich. His third kid, his first boy, was born at the end of last year to his childhood sweetheart Hanna. He shields them from public view, letting in as little light as possible on life by Lake Constance.
Who should live nearby? Mr and Mrs Wolff. They have been round for parties at the Vettel household. Dialogue is open. The wives get on well.
Vettel is engaging, thoughtful. He is determinedly old-fashioned, too: he writes letters by hand and has no social media account.
But fits of temper flash out from his essentially civilised nature. We have seen that several times on track, not least when sparring with Hamilton.
They have shared plenty of podiums but if Hamilton was dominant, it would impact Vettel
In Montreal last season, Vettel was outraged and moved the No 1 bollard in front of his own car
Perhaps most famously he deliberately drove into the back of the Englishman in Azerbaijan in 2017, having mistakenly got it into his head that Hamilton had brake-tested him.
Hamilton’s presence has certainly destabilised Vettel in recent years. Bernie Ecclestone said that for his German friend, Lewis represented a mental block. This was illustrated by Vettel sliding off in Germany in 2018 as Hamilton closed in. He also collided with him at Monza later that year.
So will Vettel dare to accept the call if his friend Toto goes through with his interest?
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