Vettel: 'Rather have Kimi' than Lewis on team

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel tells Amanda Davies that he's not afraid of having Lewis Hamilton as a teammate in the future but prefers Kimi Räikkönen.

Posted: May 25, 2018 5:58 PM
Updated: May 25, 2018 6:00 PM

They've won eight of the last 10 world titles between them, dominating Formula One's modern era and securing their reputations as true motorsport greats.

But Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have never raced as teammates -- a scenario the German driver moved to distance himself from ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

"I prefer Kimi, to give you my honest answer," Vettel told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies, when asked whether he'd rather Räikkönen, his current teammate, or his Mercedes rival alongside him at Ferrari.

"If you ask me if I'm afraid of [Hamilton] then no," added Vettel, before joking, "he's not taller than me, I don't think he's heavier than me, so in boxing terms I'm not afraid.

"In the end you have to be prepared to race whoever comes along, I don't know what is his plan in the future," he continued.

"But if I had to pick, I would pick Kimi, simply because there's no danger or threat of any politics or misunderstandings."

Two alphas within a team

With Hamilton continuing to stall over a new contract at Mercedes, speculation is rife about his future, even if it is expected he'll extend his stay.

The Brit said in Wednesday's press conference that he'd be "down to race with whoever," but was similarly hesitant to say he'd partner up with Vettel anytime soon due to the clash of characters.

"I think you've seen in history that it can often be difficult when there are two incredibly strong alphas within a team," said Hamilton, adding he sympathized with Räikkönen due to "certain situations that don't necessarily work out for him."

The current championship leader went on to say there is "great harmony" between him and current teammate Valtteri Bottas -- one he's eager not to disrupt.

"There's a respect when one of the drivers does better than the other and it's not necessarily always the same when it's different characters," said Hamilton, "so it's really dependent on the characters you're with."

READ: Hamilton and Vettel back return of "beautiful" grid girls

'Mutual respect'

Both four-time world champions, Hamilton and Vettel could hardly be more different.

While Hamilton is often spotted on red carpets, Vettel is rarely in the limelight outside of a race weekend.

Vettel said his battles with Hamilton, and previously Fernando Alonso, have given him the most enjoyment over the years.

But the German stressed that away from the drama of the race itself, it's important to have a teammate who is on the same page.

"Outside the track, outside the car, I find it a lot more enjoyable if you have mutual respect and just no unnecessary stuff to waste your energy on," said the Ferrari driver, who currently trails Hamilton by 17 points after five races of the 2018 season.

"I think it's always what you're looking for: knowing that you have a car that you can fight with, that you can trust, a team behind you that gives both of the drivers everything they have," said Vettel.

"That's what we want to be and ultimately, what we (Kimi and myself) try to do is to bring Ferrari back to where it belongs not just for a race but after a whole year."

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If the 30-year-old is to win Ferrari's first drivers' title since 2007 -- won that year, incidentally, by Raikkonen -- he'll be getting up close and personal with Hamilton on a regular basis.

"For sure Lewis is one of the main competitors and I know that he will be strong the whole season," said Vettel. "That makes him one of the main rivals but it's also a good thing if you pinpoint him as a main rival because it means you're in a good place to fight for the championship."

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