Hamilton stunned by 'first Ferrari compliment in 13 years'

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the third practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, a day ahead of the final race of the season, on November 30, 2019. (AFP Photo/GIUSEPPE CACACE)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the third practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, a day ahead of the final race of the season, on November 30, 2019. (AFP Photo/GIUSEPPE CACACE)

Abu Dhabi (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton said on Saturday that Mattia Binotto's glowing comments about him represented the first time in 13 years that anyone from Ferrari had paid him a compliment.

Asked if he would be interested in Hamilton's availability on the driver market in 2021, the Ferrari team chief had praised him as a driver and said "knowing he's available in 2021 can only make us happy".

The six-time world champion, who grabbed his 88th pole position by topping qualifying for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, said: "I think that's the first compliment I've had from Ferrari in these 13 years.

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"I honestly don't remember them ever mentioning me, ever. So, thank you, and I'll take it. It doesn't really mean anything. It's all talk, but it's nice that, finally, it's taken all these years for them to recognise me, but I'm grateful."

The 34-year-old Briton has been linked with a possible move to Ferrari when his current deal with Mercedes ends next year.

He said Ferrari were "a team that I've always appreciated over the years, so to earn respect from someone from there, that's obviously very high up, is not a bad thing."

He dismissed suggestions that he was looking for a move to Maranello whose drivers this season are former world champion Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

"I think they've got two great drivers as it is. Who knows what the driver market's going to be doing over the next year, but, if I'm really honest, I'm not really focussed on that right this second."

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