Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes should factor in the “poisonous effect” intra-team fighting can have when selecting his team-mate for 2017, but the triple world champion insists he is ready to take on anyone.
Following 2016 title winner Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement from Formula One, Hamilton will have a new face in the sister car for the first time in four years.
"What they [Mercedes] have to do is, once they've dwindled it down to five drivers or whatever, the shortlist, contractually they have to discuss it with me,” Hamilton told UK broadcaster Channel 4 for their end-of-season review.
“But I don't have a say on who [my future team-mate] is. I was recently commenting [on the topic] and it came online, saying 'Lewis doesn't care who his team-mate is', which is a little bit out of context. It's important who we have in the second car. It's important for the team's morale.
“We've seen in other teams where it can be a poisonous effect on the team, the arch-rivalry between drivers. For sure, that's really important. I'm really happy here. I love being where I am and whilst, OK, there have been some interesting scenarios, we generally always pull through.
“We've got to make sure that whoever we bring is at least as good as what we had before, if not better, in terms of creating that energy.”
The F1 rumour mill has been spinning names at a frantic pace since Rosberg dropped the bombshell, with Mercedes’ Niki Lauda even claiming that half the grid have enquired about Rosberg’s vacant seat.
“Ultimately, when they decide, which is their decision, they can put any driver in,” Hamilton added.
“Bring in Sebastian [Vettel], bring in Fernando, bring in whoever you really want. I drove against Fernando in my first year and I beat him, so that's not a worry for me.”
Mercedes announced on Thursday that it won't announce the identity of Rosberg's replacement until after the New Year.