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Verstappen raises Hamilton Ferrari suspicion after ‘annoying’ Brit with his wage

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has theorised that rumours suggesting that Ferrari are set to offer Lewis Hamilton £40million to leave Mercedes “ups the price a bit” as the Brit negotiates a new contract with the Silver Arrows. The seven-time world champion’s contract expires at the end of the season and speculation has been rife over whether he is prepared to jump ship and team up with Charles Leclerc.

Hamilton has represented Mercedes since 2013 but his 10-year association could come to an end, though all parties played down talk of any contract being put forward by Ferrari to Hamilton. After the report was shut down, Verstappen had his own theory that now Mercedes will have to offer Hamilton more than previously.

Asked whether he thinks Hamilton will stay put at Mercedes or leave, Verstappen replied: “I’m not betting, I’m also not interested! It’s his decision, right? I think he feels really happy at Mercedes. They’ve won a lot together. Maybe it’s good, because it ups the price a bit at Mercedes to pay him, so it’s good.”

Vertappen’s thoughts interestingly come shortly after Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko insisted that Hamilton is “anything but happy” that he is no longer the highest earner in F1. Hamilton reportedly sits in second place, behind Verstappen, on the list of highest-paid drivers in the sport after several years on the top spot.

“There are two things that really annoy Hamilton,” Marko said. “Firstly, that he is no longer world champion and will find it difficult to become one again in the future.

“He knows there is no place for him at Red Bull. And whether Ferrari will be better for him in terms of sport than Mercedes is not set in stone. In addition to the sporting perspective, Lewis is anything but happy that he is no longer the highest-earning driver in Formula 1. This is Max Verstappen now. At least that he could change with Ferrari’s help.”

Sky Sports F1 pundit Ted Kravitz recently claimed that Ferrari would need to double their offer to £80m in order to convince Hamilton to turn his back on Toto Wolff and Mercedes, which would undoubtedly make him the driver with the highest salary.

Interestingly, Verstappen did not name Hamilton or Mercedes as one of his biggest threats at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. He instead namechecked Leclerc, who has taken the last two pole positions in the principality. “I think naturally maybe Charles,” Verstappen said. “Ferrari in general, Carlos [Sainz] is also pretty handy around here.

“But also I think Aston Martin, they are quite good in the slow speed. They haven’t been as efficient on the straights, so I guess for here they can be close.”

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