Hamilton and Russell give green light to Vettel Mercedes move

SUZUKA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 24: Sebastian Vettel looks on prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 24, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have welcomed suggestions that Sebastian Vettel could return to Formula 1 and join the team next year.

Four-time champion Vettel, 36, revealed this week that he was considering a comeback and had held initial discussions with F1 bosses including Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.

The Brackley-based team currently has a vacancy for next season, with Hamilton in his 12th and final campaign before he makes a blockbuster move to Ferrari

And the Englishman was gushing about former rival Vettel when discussing his potential return to the grid – perhaps even as his replacement – after two seasons away. 

“I would love for Seb to come back and I think it would be an amazing option for the team,” said Hamilton ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

“A German driver, multi-world championship winning driver, and someone who has amazing values who would continue to take the team forward. I’d love it if he came back.

Hamilton’s teammate and compatriot Russell, whose Mercedes seat for next season has been confirmed, also spoke glowingly about Vettel.

“Sebastian’s a great person. He’s a four-time world champion and for sure his personality is missed on the grid,” Russell said. 

“I think it is important that we have the best 20 drivers in the world all competing for race wins and championships.

“I’m really happy and open to have anybody as my team-mate, whether it’s a world champion, whether it’s a rookie, it doesn’t change how I go about my business.”

Hamilton’s recent nemesis Max Verstappen has also been touted as his possible replacement at Mercedes, amid ongoing uncertainty over his future at Red Bull.

Three-time champion Verstappen has been unsettled by team principal Christian Horner’s investigation over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards a female colleague.

“The only thing I really care about is that the team takes on someone with integrity, that is aligned with the team and where the team’s going,” Hamilton added.

“Someone compassionate that’s able to work with great people and continues to lift them up. There’s so many great people in this team.”

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