Lewis Hamilton has triggered a frenzy of speculation about his future after holding talks with his McLaren Formula 1 team’s biggest rivals at the Canadian Grand Prix, The (London) Times reported Tuesday.
Hamilton had targeted the Montreal race in his attempt to catch Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver who leads the world championship. But just hours after qualifying in a lowly fifth place, Hamilton walked into the Red Bull motorhome and asked to talk to Christian Horner, the team principal.
On Monday night, both sides played down the 20-minute discussion. Horner said it was a "social call," while XIX Entertainment, Hamilton’s management team, described the idea that the 2008 world champion was trying to negotiate a deal with Red Bull as "ludicrous."
An XIX spokesman said, "It would be ridiculous for Lewis to go and negotiate with Red Bull on the most gossipy piece of turf in Formula One. Everyone would see him, so it would not be wise. It was just a chat. We can categorically say he is not discussing a new contract with anyone at the moment."
Hamilton’s $123 million, five-year deal with McLaren ends next year, and he is clearly unhappy with a team that has been unable to provide him with a consistently fast car to rival Vettel’s.
Hamilton has suffered two poor seasons by his standards: He was an also-ran in 2009 – when Jenson Button, now his McLaren teammate, won the title with Brawn GP – and he was left in Vettel’s wake last season.