Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen (R) said a rumoured move by Lewis Hamilton (L) to Red Bull "is not happening" AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA

It has been several months since Lewis Hamilton renewed his contract with the Mercedes Formula One team, but Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has stirred the pot by claiming that the British ace approached him about a possible move. Hamilton has now broken his silence and has denied that he approached Horner, saying that it was in fact the other way around.

At the start of the year, Hamilton held a contract with Mercedes only until the end of 2023, and there had been a lot of speculations about his future. Mercedes have been suffering a massive dip in form over the last two seasons compared to their highly successful string of eight Constructors' Championship titles in a row, and some believed that Hamilton may already be looking at his options outside the team and even outside the sport.

However, Mercedes ended the speculations in September by announcing that both Hamilton and his teammate George Russell have agreed to extend their contracts until 2025. This calmed things down a lot in the paddock, with the possibility of a sensational move to another team already out of the question for the seven-time world champion.

Christian Horner makes shocking claim

The 2023 season came to a close at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday, and one of the big stories that came out of the paddock is Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner's sensational claims. He said that a member of Hamilton's team approached him at the start of the season about the possibility of joining Red Bull in 2024.

Hamilton was also linked with Scuderia Ferrari, but Hamilton has previously denied those claims. In response to the Horner's claims about his alleged interest in teaming up with archrival Max Verstappen at Red Bull, Hamilton said: "It's completely untrue. I haven't spoken to Christian for a long, long, long time and as far as I'm aware no one in my team has spoken to them."

To be more certain, Hamilton even said that he checked with every member of his team to be sure that none of them had reached out to the rival team's boss. On the contrary, he said that it was in fact Horner who reached out to him early in the year by sending him an invitation to meet on his old phone, which he did not see until much later.

Hamilton replied: "I hope you are well; I wish you all the best, congratulations on an amazing season so far, and I hope that I am able to compete with you in the near future."

Mercedes manage to clinch second place

The speculations about Hamilton's possible move gained traction after an absolutely miserable 2022 season for the Mercedes team. It was a winless season for Hamilton, and Mercedes only managed to take third place in the Constructors' Championship.

In 2023, Red Bull ran away with both championships, and they turned out to be even more dominant, winning every single race except for one. However, Mercedes were at least able to challenge for podium finishes.

It was still a disappointing season overall, with Mercedes capturing second place in the title race by only three points over Ferrari. Hamilton struggled to make an impact at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing all the way down in 9th place after qualifying in 11th. Russell finished on the podium, helping secure much-needed points that helped them beat the Italians.

Nevertheless, it was a winless season for both Mercedes drivers, making it a terrible season overall. Hamilton gave an honest summary of the campaign, saying: "It's not been a great year in general. There's not a lot to take from the year in general. The fact that I survived it, probably that's about it."

Hamilton ended the season third in the Drivers' Standings behind the two Red Bulls, which is still an impressive feat. However, he admitted that the 17 second winning margin that Verstappen opened up at the front is something that they need to think about over the winter.

"At this moment I don't really know [what will happen]," he said. "For Red Bull to win by 17 seconds in the end, and they haven't even developed their car since August, is definitely a concern," he shared.

"We've learnt a lot about the car and it's just down to the team now. They know what they need to do, whether or not we'll get there, we'll see."