Former F1 driver Jenson Button has no doubt that Lewis Hamilton will put pressure on Mercedes teammate George Russell in the upcoming season.
The Silver Arrows received a rude shock in 2022 after the team failed to put up any fight against the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari for long stretches of the season.
It was also the first season in his career where Hamilton failed to win a single Grand Prix and was eventually outscored by his young British counterpart as Max Verstappen strolled to his second successive title.
Button, who has also been Hamilton’s teammate in the past, spoke about how he expects the Stevenage-born driver to react after the events of last season.
“Mercedes have given him a winning car for so many years,” Button said.
“Last year they obviously didn’t, but the car did win a race, so you’d say at the end of the year, they were strong.
“And I think Lewis was on it. His performances were very consistent through mid to end of season, very, very quick.
“I think he’ll start this year flat out. He’s going to be on it from the word go.
“I look forward to seeing that – it’s going to put a lot of pressure on George Russell, but I think it’s a good pairing and I look forward to that fight.”
Hamilton has made it pretty clear that he is keen on extending his stay at Mercedes beyond 2023, but Button believes that his plans could be drastically altered if the Silver Arrows fail to provide him with a competitive car.
“It’s something we all go through at some point in our career and it’s a reason a lot of people retire – because they’re not in a winning car anymore,” Button said.
“That’s why I left. You can deal with the pressure you put yourself under and the calendar if you’re in a winning car. When you’re not, it’s like, ‘you know what, I’ve had enough, I want to get out’.”
Hill reveals Hamilton motivation
Meanwhile, fellow Sky Sports pundit Damon Hill believes Hamilton has enough motivation within himself to make history and win an elusive eighth world championship.
“He’s thinking about retiring already. At 38, he’s already talked about being one of the oldest guys,” Hill said.
“You’re looking towards the end of your career – everybody knows that as a racing driver you can’t go on forever, but he’s so fit and committed and has kept himself in good shape.
“It’s the mind, it’s whether you’re mentally able to cope with getting yourself on a plane, getting to a hotel and going to a race when you think it’s probably not going to be a competitive car.
“That is the key. If that car gives him a sniff of a chance of victory, then he’ll be there. But it’s when it gets harder that it’s a bit more difficult to think long term.”
Hill went on to elaborate how it is imperative for other drivers on the circuit to realise that Hamilton is still very much capable of achieving success despite his fruitless campaign in 2022.
“A racing driver needs a carrot, and the world championship is a big carrot, but the eighth world title for Lewis and that meaning that he is undisputedly the most successful Grand Prix driver of all time on championships – that is a huge carrot,” he said.
“I think he came out of not winning it in Abu Dhabi two years ago and he thought, ‘I’m going to get it back’. And I always think that ambition is burning very, very deep inside of him.”
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