Lewis Hamilton is sceptical of claims made by Fernando Alonso that the British driver would be welcome at Ferrari. Hamilton's contract runs out at the end of the season and there will be a vacancy at Ferrari, because Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa is unlikely to have his agreement renewed.
When Alonso was asked if he would be prepared to work with Hamilton again he offered a magnanimous shrug and said: "No problem."
But when Hamilton was told of this he said: "Of course he [Alonso] is going to say that. I would say the same thing, whether it was true or not."
There was friction between the two drivers when they were together at McLaren in 2007, when Alonso – the world champion in the previous two seasons – was blown away by Hamilton in his brilliant rookie season.
While it would be true to say that McLaren's stern management structure at that time was not ideally suited to Alonso's temperament, it is equally true to point out that Alonso would not welcome back his old adversary in the biggest team in Formula One. There are also persistent rumours that Alonso's long-term partner in the red car will be another world champion, Sebastian Vettel.
Ron Dennis, McLaren's executive chairman, said in Canada earlier this month that Hamilton's five-year deal (worth an estimated £75m) was signed in a very different economic climate, suggesting that his star driver may be asked to make a pay cut.
Hamilton said on Thursday: "Ron is a very tough negotiator. He was very tough when they negotiated the contract that I now have and I expect him to be the same when we go back in."
But Hamilton insisted that he – and not his management agency, XIX Entertainment – will decide when contract talks will start.
He said: "I did not hire them to do all that. That is why Simon [Fuller] is not here all the time but I know at some point I will have to say to him that I need him to do a job, and he will go and do it. Up until then I have to focus on the important stuff.
"They [negotiations] haven't started. Ron was just trying to position himself because he knows it is getting close. I just have to wait for things to fall into place. At some stage they will."
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