Jenson Button has tipped Sir Lewis Hamilton to be back to his very best in 2023 as he looks to win a record eighth Formula One world championship.
2022 was easily the worst year of Hamilton’s career as he finished sixth in standings and ended an F1 season winless for the first time ever.
While that was mainly down to the difficulty Mercedes had with their W13 car, the controversial events of Abu Dhabi 2021 where he lost the title to Max Verstappen were no doubt having an effect on him.
With the British sporting legend now 38, some have wondered whether he still has the drive and what it takes to win another title which would unquestionably make him the most successful F1 driver of all-time.
2009 world champion Button, who raced alongside Hamilton at McLaren from 2010 to 2012, knows from first-hand experience that he can rise to the top again.
‘Lewis is very good at bouncing back. If you beat him in a race one weekend, the next weekend he’ll come out stronger so I don’t have any fears that Lewis won’t bounce back,’ Button exclusively told Metro Sport via NOW.
‘He ended the last season very strong. He didn’t win in Brazil like his teammate [George Russell] did but there were reasons for that. I think he’ll come out of the blocks on it, I really do.
‘He’ll be more hungry. He had so many years of winning championships, winning races, so last year would have been a real hit in the guts for for him because it’s something he’s not used to.
‘Not being at the front, not even fighting for podiums even so that was a surprise, but mid-season on he was performing like the Lewis that we know so he’ll be quick this year and that will put the pressure on his teammate George.’
During their time together, Button achieved something no one had before: beating Hamilton as his teammate, finishing 43 points ahead of him in 2011, a feat that only Nico Rosberg in 2016 and Russell last year have since achieved.
Button, who won 15 races in his career, describes Hamilton as his toughest teammate ever, alongside Fernando Alonso, and pinpointed exactly why he is just so good behind the wheel.
‘Lewis was tough because he could be having a very bad practice session, not competitive, and then come qualifying would just switch it on and it would work.
‘He’d just get a lap out of the car and I’d go from being three-tenths quicker than him to three-tenths slower and that’s how it was with Lewis, that natural ability.
‘He’s obviously built on that over the years with the developing of the car and his consistent pace in a race. But for me that was the highlight with Lewis, the qualifying, the ability to just pull a result out of the bag whenever he went out.
‘Lewis is the one that I still can’t understand how he got the performance over one lap.’
The F1 season gets underway in Bahrain this weekend, with Sunday’s race starting at 3pm.
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