Finally, after 13 years a compliment

Even as Ferrari dropped another massive strategic clanger in the form of Charles Leclerc being unable to make it to the line in time to attempt a final qualifying run, the media continued to link the Italian outfit with six-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton.

With Mattia Binotto gifting the media a bone on Friday, by suggesting his team was “happy” that the Briton might become available in 2021, it was inevitable that the comment would be put to the Mercedes driver.

“Well, this is the first time I’ve heard of that,” said the Briton. “I think that’s the first compliment I’ve had from Ferrari in these thirteen years.”

“It’s because you’re beating them,” suggested Max Verstappen.

“I honestly don’t remember them ever mentioning me, ever,” said Hamilton, “so thank you, I’ll take it. It doesn’t really mean anything, it’s all talk but yeah, it’s nice that finally… it’s taken all these years for him to recognise maybe but I’m grateful.”

Asked if Ferrari was “wasting its time” in “being nice” to him, Hamilton smiled: “I think it’s never a waste of time to ever being nice to someone.

“As I said, it has been a long, long time and a team that I’ve always appreciated over the years, so to earn their respect from someone from there who’s obviously very high up is obviously not a bad thing.

“I think they’ve got two great drivers as is so 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 focused on that right this second: trying to make sure I finish off strong.

“I’ve got this incredible group of people who hire me where I am and I feel like I just continue to owe it to them to give my heart to them and my energy 100 per cent to them, particularly as I’m still in contract and negotiations haven’t started yet.

“I honestly don’t know how the next phase of the months is going to go when it comes to contract. It’s very odd that you have to do it almost a year before it ends and it can’t be done towards the end but that’s just the way it goes but we shall see.”

Check out our Saturday gallery from Yas Marina, here.