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Vettel admits talks with Mercedes to partner Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel never partnered Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1, but discussions were held about the German joining the British driver.

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Formula 1 talks were held with the late Niki Lauda about a potential switch to Mercedes to partner Lewis Hamilton. Vettel retired from F1 at the end of 2022, bringing to close a career spanning 16 years, 53 wins and four world titles. Despite being the dominant drivers of their generation, Vettel and Hamilton never raced as teammates, only truly fighting for the championship head-to-head in 2017 and 2018 - the latter coming out on top in both campaigns. During those seasons, then-Ferrari driver Vettel has revealed how he held talks with Lauda - who was then Mercedes non-executive chairman and had played a key role in luring Hamilton from McLaren in time for 2013.

Vettel's Mercedes talks

"Maybe there was [an opportunity, and] I spoke with Niki, but to be honest, it was halfway through the Ferrari period," Vettel explained about potentially joining Mercedes on the F1: Beyond The Grid podcast. "Obviously it would have been a big deal, because Lewis was their number one, and I'm not sure whether they would have liked to have us both in the team. But I also didn't have great interest at that time, because I was so committed to Ferrari. "That was my dream to make that thing work, so you talk to each other, but it wasn't really serious. "I think it would have been a great challenge [to be teammates with Lewis], and I think I would have enjoyed that, but it just wasn't meant to be. "At that time, like I said, my focus was to win with Ferrari. I didn't want to change team and win with Mercedes, but it just didn't happen. I am cool with that. "I think I would have enjoyed racing with Lewis, we get along really well, and our moment was the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where we had maybe what you'd call nowadays a 'misunderstanding'."

Hamilton incident key to relationship

During a Safety Car period in Baku, Vettel was running in second place behind leader Hamilton as the race prepared to resume. Exiting Turn 15, Hamilton backed up to create a gap to the Safety Car, but Vettel was caught out, ramming into the back of the Mercedes. Vettel claimed Hamilton had brake-tested him, and drew alongside hitting the side of the Mercedes. He was later given a 10 second stop/go penalty by the stewards, later holding clear-the-air talks with Hamilton, which brought the two closer together. "I was very upset. It was one of these moments where things didn't go my way. And I was upset, and maybe the emotional side did take over too much," said Vettel. "But I think actually, that moment was a key moment because it could have made us step away from each other more, or bring us together. And it brought us together. "I reflect and I did think about what happened. "And as much as I might have felt in the moment that it is not fair, [what I did is] not right. "I wanted to show him, I wanted to tell him, but obviously we're wearing helmets, and it's hard to communicate. So that was a form of communication. "But I also did see that it was the wrong form, and it was not the right way. "It wasn't sportsmanlike and not fair, which I admitted afterwards, and we talked to each other and I think since that moment, we got closer to each other."

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