Johnny Herbert picks sides in Lewis Hamilton and Horner row – ‘Don’t listen’

Johnny Herbert has joked that he ‘doesn’t listen’ to Christian Horner sometimes and that the Red Bull team principal’s recent comments about Lewis Hamilton expressing interest in joining his team represent one such occasion. 

The Red Bull boss spoke to the Daily Mail ahead of the final race of the 2023 season in Abu Dhabi, stating that earlier in the campaign, a member of Hamilton’s entourage – later disclosed by a different source to be his father, Anthony – had reached out to him regarding the possibility of driving for the team in 2024.

This came during a point in the season when Sergio Perez was coming under increasing pressure. The Mexican driver flew out of the blocks with two wins in the opening four rounds but failed to win another Grand Prix thereafter and his form after the summer break sparked serious conversations about the viability of keeping him in the second seat beyond the end of the year.

Despite Horner’s claims, Hamilton appeared confused when presented with the rumours in the media pen in Abu Dhabi. The seven-time world champion denied any knowledge of contact between his circle and the Red Bull boss.

In a conversation with Genting Casino Herbert addressed the possibility of Hamilton becoming Max Verstappen’s team-mate and admitted he would be surprised if Horner’s comment were true. He said: “I don’t think anybody was really aware of that, I think a lot of people were saying ‘Well that would be the possible right pairing to have’ because obviously in a situation like Lewis was in at Mercedes.

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“I think Lewis is very aware, and you mentioned it earlier, Lewis is after the eighth. Now he knows how good Max is, he knows it’s Max’s team, he knows that when he’s been winning the championships that he’s got, generally, he’s been the man of that team.

“And you go, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Nicky Lauder, Nigel Mansell, the list goes on, they were the leaders of those teams. And the way you win world championships is to be the leader of the team.

“Going into Red Bull, that I don’t think would ever be the case, and I think he’s very aware of that. I’d be very surprised if there was any contact from Lewis’ side and him not knowing that they were doing it if that was the case.

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“He would’ve been very aware. But it is, however people want to take this, very Christian. There’s a lot of things, I don’t really listen to Christian sometimes, and I think that probably was one of them.”

Despite Horner’s claims, Hamilton remains committed to the Mercedes project. The seven-time world champion ended the season in a frustrating fashion but still finished in P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, and is contracted for another two seasons with the Silver Arrows.

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