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|Belgian Grand Prix on the BBC|
|Date: 25-27 August Venue: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|Coverage: Practice sessions and qualifying on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (BBC Sport website only). Race live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.|
Lewis Hamilton has dismissed the chances of title rival Sebastian Vettel joining him at Mercedes next year.
Vettel is out of contract at the end of this season and a new deal has not yet been announced, even though Ferrari re-signed his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen this week.
“I know he doesn’t want to be my team-mate,” Hamilton said.
“He wouldn’t have the position he is in now in terms of how his team operates if he was here.”
That is a reference to Ferrari focusing all their efforts on Vettel’s title campaign to the detriment of Raikkonen.
Vettel won the last race in Hungary despite a steering problem after the Finn was told not to challenge him and remain in second place to protect him from attacks from Hamilton.
By contrast, Mercedes operate a looser policy, in which the two drivers are allowed to race.
Bottas gave up third place in Hungary to Hamilton after the Englishman asked to be let by to attack the Ferraris but said he would give the place back if he could not make ground.
Hamilton ceded third place to Bottas on the final lap.
Vettel leads Hamilton by 14 points in the championship with Bottas a further 19 points adrift.
On Vettel’s future, Hamilton added: “It’s highly unlikely he’ll be here. But I am always game to race whoever it is and racing against the best drivers is always a great thing.”
He said Bottas’ arrival had improved the atmosphere and workings of the Mercedes compared to Hamilton’s three years of tension with Nico Rosberg, who retired after winning the title last year.
“The last race is one of the best examples of it, how great the team is currently,” Hamilton said. “Coming into this season, I haven’t changed a single thing I do but there is another new element in the team and it works.
“So I don’t believe any of the bosses are unhappy with what is currently in place. I find it hard to believe they would change that.”
Asked about his future, Vettel said: “I don’t know, we’ll see. At some point I think there will be news. So let’s see.”
The title battle
Hamilton has had an up and down start to the season – he and Vettel have won four races each but the German has maximised his car’s performance better than his rival, who has had a number of off-weekends.
Hamilton, who is taking part in his 200th grand prix this weekend, said: “He’s leading because he’s been more consistent. I want to have more consistency than I have had so far this year.”
He added: “We know what is going on with our car and where it can be better. We don’t need to big it up or downplay it. We just have to do the job and we are here to deliver some very special performances over the next nine races.
“I thought about lots of things over the summer break, but one thing for sure is I am here for blood, I am here to win and I am here to stay.
“I have been racing so long, you would think your passion, your desire to win, would fade, but it is stronger than ever and that is exciting for me.”
Vettel said he felt Mercedes were “favourites” to win in Belgium on Sunday because the high-speed track bears similarities to Silverstone, where Hamilton dominated.
“If we had to race in Silverstone again I think we’d do a lot better,” Vettel said. “We just didn’t get a very good weekend altogether but it’s true that Mercedes was very strong there.
“The fact that its likely to be similar here for us makes it fairly straightforward. I think we have only to gain.
“Because of how strong they were in Silverstone and some similarities, I’d say they are the favourites going to here. But for sure we’re not here to settle behind them, we want to attack.”
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