Jenson Button believes there is a chance that his could be Lewis Hamilton’s final season in Formula 1.
The former Brawn driver won the F1 world title back in 2009 and while he does not have a comparable track record to Mercedes’ driver Hamilton, he does know what it takes to stay at the top for a season.
Speaking to Metro newspaper, Button welcomed the new competitiveness amongst F1 teams in the first race, with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all pushing one another in Bahrain.
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“It was strange,” he said of Red Bull’s collapse. “I mean, first of all, it’s great to see another team [Ferrari] up the front. I do think that Mercedes will be challenging those top two here, which is good. So you have three teams possibly fighting for the win, but it was a strange one.
“It’s unusual for them to have a failure like that. A fuel pick-up, the problem…which happens, and normally you get through that in testing so you can understand at what point you stop sucking up fuel, but I don’t know if they did that, or they’ve had some other issues.
“[It’s] very technical now, F1. It’s a lot more complicated than when I was racing.”
Button predicts that the Austrian team could mount a comeback as soon as Sunday in Saudi Arabia.
“​​They’re definitely the quickest at the moment, both cars upfront, fastest qualifying…they’re definitely the team to beat,” he continued. “But I don’t think Red Bull is far behind at all, and with a different track here in Saudi Arabia it could turn around very easily.
“It’s an aerodynamic circuit, very fast, very flowing, the opposite of what we saw in Bahrain which is a very stop-start circuit. We could see a challenge from them, or Mercedes, or from another team, who knows.”
Of Hamilton, he admitted he could not predict if the seven-time champion would stick it out beyond 2022.
He said: “I have no idea what he’s gonna do, sometimes you want to go out on top, but it’s difficult walking away when you’re on top when you can come back the year after and win again. Who knows.
“For me, it’s exciting to see him battling it out with people like Max and the Ferrari guys, with Charles [Leclerc] being competitive and quite an aggressive driver, as well, in the way he fights for position.
“This is what we want. When it was just Mercedes winning every weekend it’s not so fun for people watching and everyone involved. To have two teams last year fighting for championship was great, and possibly three this year, if not more – F1’s in a good place.”
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