Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has added further context to the situation regarding contact between Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton that has dominated headlines ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner alleged in an interview with the Daily Mail that Hamilton's camp reached out to him regarding a potential partnership going forward.
Prior to extending his Mercedes deal earlier this year, Hamilton's contract was due to expire at the end of the current campaign, with question marks raised over his future amid Mercedes' dip in form since the start of 2022.
However, Hamilton denied that such conversations took place and insisted that Horner messaged him regarding a catch-up conversation.
The situation has sparked intrigue as Mercedes and Red Bull endured a ferocious rivalry during the 2021 season when Hamilton and Max Verstappen went head-to-head for a championship that concluded in controversial circumstances.
Speaking to select media including RacingNews365 in Abu Dhabi, Wolff projected bewilderment over how Horner has handled the situation.
“We don't understand what he's thinking to come up with these things,” he said.
“So what happened is that Christian, through an agency that we work with, wanted to have contact details to speak about the seat. That's how the whole thing went, it was Christian inquiring about Lewis' availability.
“It was not about a seat, it was just 'blah'. I've seen it. So I don't know what drives him to come up with this.”
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Red Bull has enjoyed a highly dominant Formula 1 campaign, prevailing at 20 of the 21 races staged so far this year.
The Milton Keynes-based squad has already beaten Mercedes' record of the most Grand Prix wins in a single year after the latter claimed 19 victories during the 2016 season, when Hamilton and the now-retired Nico Rosberg battled for the championship.
Mercedes' stretch of dominance in F1 that began at the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014 has seemingly ended as it has slipped back in the pecking order since the start of last year's campaign when fresh technical regulations were introduced.
Red Bull has spiralled in the opposite direction and has commanded the field, missing out on just six race wins in the previous 43 events, with Verstappen adding two more titles to his maiden championship from 2021.
“They've won the season, be happy about it, be humble and enjoy it,” Wolff asserted.
Mercedes' rivalry with Red Bull peaked during the 2021 campaign with Wolff and Horner also trading blows as often as their drivers.
Wolff, who has been at the helm of the Mercedes team for almost 11 years, provided further insight into his leadership mentality by describing his method of “enemy building” - but insists he has no foes in F1.
“I believe in enemy building and looking at people that motivate you, that annoy you, that you want to beat,” he said. “I've encouraged everybody in the company to find out who that is in the other teams.
“Spend some time on LinkedIn and see who it is. I have two windows that are permanently open on my laptop, and it's no one from Formula 1.”