Lewis Hamilton has predicted that fellow World Champion Sebastian Vettel will make a return to racing after retiring from Formula 1 at this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Both Hamilton and Vettel made their Grand Prix debuts in 2007, although the latter only joined full-time in 2008. The two drivers have won all but four titles between them since Hamilton's first title success in 2008.
In their later years, the duo have morphed into the elder statesmen of the grid, speaking out on social issues and pushing F1 to take action to combat climate change - with Hamilton jokingly branding his former title rival as a 'nuisance'.
The seven-time champion then predicted that Vettel would be back in a racing car soon after his planned 299th and final Grand Prix start.
Hamilton on Vettel future
"I think we always had such great battles," Hamilton told media, including RacingNews365.com, of racing against Vettel - who he beat to the 2017 and 2018 world titles.
"I was just sitting here thinking most drivers are coming back, like he [Fernando Alonso] has come back. You're probably going to come back!
"We're seeing other drivers coming back, so I'm sitting here kind of accepting that it is your last race, but he'll be back.
"Formula 1 has a way of sucking you back in and we've noticed that from so many other drivers."
Vettel then interjected to suggest that when Hamilton decides to quit, the two can "make a deal so I can come back" and drive the Mercedes.
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Vettel points to Baku 2018 turning point
Despite racing for nearly a decade in F1, 2017 was the first season where Hamilton and Vettel fought exclusively for the World Championship.
A stronger start to the season for Ferrari had Vettel leading the standings going into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he famously collided with Hamilton after believing the Briton had "brake-tested" him under a Safety Car period.
Vettel drove alongside Hamilton and rammed his Ferrari into the side of the Mercedes, damaging both cars in the process.
Both drivers believed that this was a catalyst for a positive relationship change between them.
"Baku for me wasn't a great moment because what I did wasn't right," Vettel explained, who was punished at the time with a 10 second stop/go penalty for the incident.
"I think from the moment onwards..." Vettel began.
"...our friendship got a lot better!" said Hamilton, finishing the start of Vettel's sentence.
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