Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium - Lewis Hamilton has laughed off a suggestion that Formula One title rival Sebastian Vettel might become his Mercedes team-mate after the Ferrari driver indicated an announcement about his future was not imminent.
"I think it's highly unlikely that he'll be here (at Mercedes)," triple champion Hamilton told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix on Thursday, "and I don't think he wants to be my team-mate."
"I know he doesn't want to be my team mate," Hamilton added with a smile. "He wouldn't be in the position he's now in his team, in terms of how the team operate, if he was here."
The battle between Hamilton and Vettel, a four-times champion, looks like going all the way to the final race in Abu Dhabi in November. Each has won four races and their rivalry has been characterised by mutual respect with a 'road rage' flare up in Azerbaijan where Vettel banged wheels with Hamilton after hitting the back of his car while the safety car was deployed, although Vettel subsequently apologised.
Vettel is seen as Ferrari's clear No.1, following in the footsteps of seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, while Mercedes is firm on equal treatment for its drivers, and Hamilton's fair play stood out in the last race before the August break when he relinquished third place to team-mate Valtteri Bottas on the final lap under a prior agreement.
While Hamilton has a year to run on his contract, Vettel's deal expires at the end of this season. Mercedes has yet to confirm its second driver, with Bottas joining in January as replacement for retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg with no guarantees for 2018.
But Hamilton said: "I don't believe any of the bosses or any of the individuals within the team is unhappy with what is currently in place, so I find it hard to believe they will change that."
'No news yet'
Ferrari has meanwhile confirmed Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who has been a loyal team player but last won a race in 2013, earlier in the week and has said it wants Vettel to stay, while Vettel himself played down expectations of an announcement at Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix at Monza next week.
"No news yet and the main focus now is not to focus on news, the main focus is on the race and that will be the same next week," he said. "So I don’t expect news within the next two weeks, to be honest."