BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Lewis Hamilton would not have a problem with Max Verstappen becoming his Mercedes teammate next year, saying he would enjoy the opportunity to prove he is the better driver.
Verstappen currently drives for Red Bull and, despite having a less competitive car than Hamilton, has won two of the last three races. The 21-year-old is seen as a future champion and has consistently outperformed his teammate and his machinery in the last 12 months.
Hamilton is a five-time world champion and has won two of his titles while racing against current teammate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn is out of contract at the end of the year and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has not yet made a decision on whether to extend his deal beyond the end of 2019.
Mercedes has reserve driver Esteban Ocon and Williams rookie George Russell under contract as potential replacements for Bottas, but Verstappen is also believed to be in the picture for 2020. Although the Dutch driver has been contracted to Red Bull throughout his career, there are suggestions that a performance clause means he could exit his contract a year early and become a free agent for 2020.
Hamilton has always maintained that he would accept any driver as his teammate and, while he is keen for Bottas to stay, he sees positives in having Verstappen alongside him.
"I honestly have no problem with it," Hamilton said. "I do like working with Valtteri, so I am not too sure how that dynamic would work for the team, but I am not saying it would or it would not.
"I see positives from that move and potential negatives, but there are always positives and negatives with different people you end up working with.
"In some ways it works well for me. I see stories saying that we have different cars, so that's the only way [I am beating him], so it gives me an opportunity to show that's not the case."
Hamilton's comments come several days after his former Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg, suggested Verstappen would be leading the championship in a head-to-head fight in the same car.
"I would say Verstappen would be in front of Hamilton in the points in the championship if he was in the Mercedes this year," Rosberg said on his YouTube channel. "But only because of Hamilton's zero points in Germany [Hamilton later claimed two points after Sunday's race when the two Alfa Romeos were disqualified].
"He's just had a phenomenal season, so Verstappen, for the moment, is the best driver out there. Proper impressive stuff, the whole of the Netherlands is going nuts.
"So that's really fun to watch and we all love watching him because Verstappen is so damn exciting."
When it was put to Verstappen on Thursday in Budapest that he is a better driver than Hamilton, he responded: "I don't say any of those things, anyway, and I also don't care. What is the most important is that I perform on track."