Loyalties run deep in football, but Max Verstappen has joked that isn't the case for Lewis Hamilton following his attempt to buy a stake in Chelsea.
Hamilton, 37, has long professed himself as an Arsenal supporter, so many were puzzled when it emerged he's part of Sir Martin Broughton's consortium hoping to buy the Blues. The former British Airways chairman fronts one of the three remaining groups still in the running to purchase Chelsea after Roman Abramovich was forced to sell due to sanctions as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Seven-time Formula 1 champion Hamilton is seemingly keen to capitalise on the situation, with tennis icon Serena Williams also understood to be a part of the bid. It's a decision that could have huge financial reward in the long term, but Verstappen couldn't abide shirking one's sporting loyalty in such a manner.
"I am a PSV fan and I would never buy Ajax," the reigning king of F1 told the PA news agency. "And if I was going to buy a football club I would want to be the full owner and to take the decisions myself, not own just a tiny percentage.
"I thought he was an Arsenal fan? And if you are an Arsenal fan going for Chelsea, that it is quite interesting. But everyone does what they want with their money so let's see what comes out of it."
In F1 terms, the move could be compared to Hamilton buying a stake in Red Bull after accomplishing so many of his greatest driving achievements with Mercedes.
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Hamilton has previously said it's "difficult to imagine life without racing," but he's having to assess his options for what comes after his career. The Silver Arrows star has shown an interest in fashion and designed his own clothing line for Tommy Hilfiger, presenting one potential avenue to explore.
Any distractions could be to the detriment of his driving, however, with a season-and-a-half or so left to run on his Mercedes contract. The veteran is currently fifth in the standings, one place and three points ahead of Verstappen, who has failed to finish two of this season's three races.
Hamilton has mustered just one podium placement and has experienced difficulty with Mercedes' W13 design after a tough pre-season. The campaign resumes on Sunday with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, where Hamilton won the inaugural edition of this race in 2020.
As for sixth-placed Verstappen, he's glad to see former karting nemesis Charles Leclerc thriving, with the Ferrari frontrunner 34 points clear at the summit. Asked whether Mercedes' struggles this season have disappointed him, Verstappen was eager to focus on the incumbent leader.
"It is good to have two young guys fighting up the front in different cars," added Verstappen. "And it is good for Formula One that the young guys are taking over a bit. It just shows that it is hard to get things right.
"Sometimes you nail a certain regulation and it always seems like you know and understand why that is. But clearly that is not always the case. Sometimes it is hit and miss, and with these new regulations Ferrari have started really well. Now it is up to us to close the gap."
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