Jenson Button expects Mercedes to rejoin the battle for the world championship next season. Red Bull Racing and Ferrari will be strong again anyway, but the Briton expects the German racing stable to pick up again after a lesser year. In this he sees an important role for Lewis Hamilton, whom the former Formula 1 driver thinks will be on top from the start after having a disappointing year.
Button expects at Sky Sports that Red Bull and Ferrari will fight for the title again next year. “Red Bull is the only one we haven’t seen the real version of compared to last year’s car, but Red Bull is clearly going to come forward with a strong car. I think they’re going to be competitive. The Ferrari looks good, it looks like they’ve worked on areas where they were weak and they’ve taken some risks in other areas, so the car looks good.”
The Briton thinks that a third participant will join the battle at the front of the field this year. “The crazy thing about Mercedes is, the car looks great I would say, it’s the most beautiful car in my eyes, but they may still change the sidepods. I’m surprised they haven’t done that in the winter, rather than in the season itself, but they clearly believe in the style they have now for the first few races and I’m looking forward to that fight up front. We’re all hoping for that fight between three manufacturers at the front of the field, three teams, and I think we’re going to see that at some point in this season.”
Hamilton on top despite non-winning car
The former F1 driver saw that Mercedes had a lesser year, which sparked rumors about Hamilton’s possible retirement. It’s something Button could well have imagined, because he himself retired because he couldn’t be competitive anymore. “It’s something we all go through at some point in our careers. It is also a reason why many people retire, they are no longer in a winning car. That’s also why I stopped. You can handle the pressure and the calendar when you’re in a winning car. When this isn’t the case, you’re like, it’s enough, I want out.’
Yet he saw how the seven-time world champion gave his employer some credit and put up a combative attitude. “Mercedes has given him a winning car for so many years, obviously not last year, but the car won a race last year, so you could say they were strong at the end of the year. I think Lewis was on top of it, his performance was very consistent from the mid-season to the end, very, very fast, I think he’s off to a flying start this year, he’ll be on top of it from the start so I’m looking forward to it to see that. It will put a lot of pressure on George Russell and Mercedes, but I think they are a good duo. I look forward to that fight.’