Hamilton jokes Alonso should take Gasly's seat

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- A complimentary postrace tweet from Fernando Alonso prompted Lewis Hamilton to suggest he should partner with Max Verstappen for the rest of the Formula One season at Red Bull.

Two-time world champion Alonso, who stepped away from F1 at the end of 2018, was quick to praise Hamilton and Verstappen for their tense battle for victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

While those two men dominated the race, their teammates struggled -- Valtteri Bottas saw his championship chances dealt a further blow after struggling to eighth position after an sloppy first lap forced him into an unscheduled pit-stop. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is making a call between Bottas and reserve driver Esteban Ocon over the summer break.

Verstappen's teammate Pierre Gasly finished sixth after being woefully off the pace again. Red Bull boss Christian Horner has stopped short of saying his seat is at risk, but there are not many in the paddock who believe Gasly will make the end of the season on current form.

The Alonso comment was raised in the postrace news conference, when Sebastian Vettel had joined Hamilton and Vettel. Each driver was asked if they would welcome him back to the grid and it wasn't long before Hamilton was cheekily suggesting he had an idea for how Alonso could get himself back on the grid.

Here's how the exchange went:

Hamilton: Well, firstly that's really awesome that he's supportive. I was watching some of the starts of previous years and watching him in his Renault days, remembering before I got to Formula One watching how amazing their starts were... I don't know how old Fernando is now but if he's always going to be a great driver. If he can get a good seat he is always welcome to battle with us. It doesn't make a difference necessarily to me, I'm here to fight whoever is here.

Verstappen: I think it was a bit of a shame I never had the chance to fight him in F1.

Hamilton: He'd be a good teammate for you ...

Verstappen: You had experience with it, I don't know.

Vettel: He doesn't want to [remember].

Hamilton: Speak to Christian!

Verstappen: [laughs] Well...

*Vettel is asked the question*

Vettel: I don't mind -- I don't think he ever really liked me, I don't really know why! I don't mind him, I respect him for what he achieved and what he did on track. Bring him back, I don't mind.

Verstappen: Maybe he's a social media manager! No, to me he's always been very nice and good. I like that he is also now looking into other opportunities for racing. He just loves racing and he wants to win, he wants to be competitive. It's good to see.

Hamilton: This sport needs the best drivers in the best seats, you know. And there's still at least a seat available that's good enough for winning, and he's good enough for winning so it wouldn't be such a bad thing...

Verstappen: Maybe he can speak to Toto [Wolff]?

Hamilton: Well, Valtteri's great, Valtteri's been winning! You're the one with the extra seat, I would say...

Verstappen: [hands raised in the air] I didn't say that!

Alonso has shown little interest in returning to F1, although McLaren CEO Zak Brown has said the door remains open for the Spaniard to return one day if the team delivers a car with title-winning credentials. In the meantime, Alonso is undecided on his next steps, although a return to the Indy 500 in 2020 seems a logical decision as it is the final piece of the Triple Crown he is desperate to complete before he retires.