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Verstappen not thinking about replacing Hamilton at Mercedes "at this stage"

Verstappen not thinking about replacing Hamilton at Mercedes "at this stage"

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Verstappen not thinking about replacing Hamilton at Mercedes "at this stage"

Verstappen not thinking about replacing Hamilton at Mercedes "at this stage"

Max Verstappen is refusing to allow himself to think about the possibility of replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for next year with the new campaign yet to begin.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner recently suggested that Mercedes would target Verstappen if Hamilton opted to leave F1 at the end of this season after only signing a one-year contract with the team.

Although Verstappen is contracted with Red Bull through to 2023, the deal contains performance-related clauses that could open the door for Mercedes to step in should the current seven-time F1 champion call it a day.

Asked if he had an eye on Mercedes and his thoughts on replacing Hamilton should Red Bull fail to provide him with a title-challenging car this season, Verstappen replied: "At the end of the day, I don't know what Lewis is going to do.

"I just focus on myself. I'm very focused on this year and trying to make it a success. It's so early in the season, with only a shakedown [of the RB16B at Silverstone], that those kinds of things I'm not really thinking about at this stage."

Verstappen has delivered an initial positive report on the RB16B for this year after a shakedown filming day at Silverstone on Wednesday, although remained guarded about his title prospects.

While recognising Red Bull has to provide him with a car to challenge Mercedes and Hamilton, he also appreciates what is required from his personal perspective.

"‘What can I do?’" questioned Verstappen. "It is just looking back at races, analysing weekends and stuff like that. Sometimes just looking back at a race you can see stuff.

“You can also hear stuff from other teams, what they say, and I’m more about improving driving-wise, not fitness-wise.

“It’s never good enough. Every year you need to step up again, try to be even better in qualifying, try to be more consistent in the race, try to be even better on tyres, try to be even better in setting up the car.

“But this is a natural process and it is not something I can pinpoint. It just happens for me naturally but also you can rewind in your head sometimes a race weekend.”

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