Having previously said that he will have no say in who replaces Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes in 2017, Lewis Hamilton has now admitted that the German team has a contractual obligation to keep him informed and allow him input.
As the world champions admit that they will now not be in a position to name their second driver until January, Hamilton admits that it is vital to get it right not only in terms of finding a driver who can hit the ground running but who will immediately gel with the team and not cause problems.
"Once they've dwindled it down to five drivers, or whatever it is, the shortlist, contractually they have to discuss with me," he revealed to Channel 4. "But I don't have a say who it is."
In recent days attention has shifted to Valtteri Bottas, a Finn with the same sort of unflappable temperament as countryman, and fellow Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen. However, Fernando Alonso, of whom Hamilton has experience, has also been linked with the German team.
"It is important who we have in the second car," said Hamilton, "it's important for the team's morale.
“We've seen in other teams and times where it can have a poisonous effect on a team, the arch rivalry between drivers. And so for sure that's really important, because I'm really happy here, I love being where I am, and whilst, OK, there’s 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, if not better, in terms of creating that energy," he insisted. "I’ve had experiences and divisions in the past which I would strongly advise not, in a team, to have that scenario.
"I’ll drive against every single driver you want, ultimately when they decide, which is their decision, they can put in any driver. They can bring Sebastian, Fernando, bring whoever you really want... I drove against Fernando in my first year, and beat him, so that's not a worry for me. I am happy to drive against any of them. But in terms of what is best for the team, probably not the best idea."