Sebastian Vettel has left the door ajar for rival Lewis Hamilton to join him at Ferrari next year by insisting he would not veto the move.
Hamilton, who holds a 17-point championship lead over Vettel ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, is still to complete his contract plans beyond this season.
The 33-year-old defending champion has repeated his intention to extend his deal with Mercedes, while the sport’s world champions are entirely confident he will stay.
But, Mercedes expected to finalise negotiations before the season-opening round in Melbourne two months ago, and the lack of an announcement is proving an unwelcome distraction.
Hamilton took to the Monte Carlo press conference stage alongside Vettel on Wednesday, with the former complaining the stage light was too excessive.
The two championship protagonists both wore sunglasses in a jovial protest.
Vettel was then asked if he would be open to Hamilton replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next year.
“I don’t know because he hasn’t asked me,” Vettel, 30, replied.
Hamilton joked: “He has a veto so that wouldn’t happen.” To which the German countered: “I don’t. I wouldn’t mind [Hamilton joining].”
Vettel added: “To be completely honest I am very happy with the relationship I have with Kimi.”
Hamilton said: “I think we have a closer relationship, don’t we?”
He added: “I am down to race with whoever. For any driver you want to go up against the best.
“I love racing against the best drivers because it pushes you to the limit. Racing against Fernando [Alonso], racing against Jenson [Button], and some of the top drivers I’ve raced with brings the good and bad from you.”
Hamilton, who will be 34 at the start of next season, is entering what could be his final contract in Formula One as he ponders life beyond motor racing.
It was here three years ago where the announcement of his second term at Mercedes was made. But the four-time champion, who has won the last two races, says he is in no rush to firm up his future plans.
“There are not any sticking points,” Hamilton added. “I said at the beginning that there is no rush to do the deal and I will do it in my own time.
“There is no discussion with anyone else or consideration for anyone else. I am just taking my time. I still have a contract in place and I am enjoying racing.
“I have told my people there is no rush. If it is not ready this week, and if it is not ready the week after, then there is no stress. I am not going to stress about it.”