In the high-octane world of Formula 1, rivalries are a common spectacle. But what happens when a former teammate openly admits that he would be more fearful racing against someone other than the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton? Jenson Button, who once shared the garage with Hamilton during their time at McLaren, recently dropped a bombshell, suggesting that racing against Max Verstappen in an RB19 would be a greater challenge than facing off against Hamilton himself.
Button’s revelation came shortly after a heated debate in the Formula 1 community, sparked by Hamilton’s claim that he has faced tougher competition within his team than Verstappen has. Hamilton’s statement came hot on the heels of his contract extension with Mercedes, solidifying his commitment to the Silver Arrows for the next two years. The British racing icon was determined to make the case that throughout his illustrious career, he has contended with formidable teammates, unlike Verstappen, who, according to Hamilton, has had it relatively easy in terms of teammate competition.
This assertion, however, did not go unnoticed or unchallenged by Formula 1 enthusiasts and experts alike. Button, who partnered with Hamilton at McLaren for three seasons, acknowledged that he himself had been a strong competitor. Still, he countered Hamilton’s claim by admitting that if given the opportunity to race in an RB19, he would harbor greater apprehension racing against Max Verstappen than his former teammate.
Button’s rationale behind this intriguing perspective lies in the exceptional design prowess of Adrian Newey, the chief technical officer at Red Bull Racing. According to Button, the RB19 is akin to a tailor-made racing machine for Max Verstappen. The car’s design and engineering seem perfectly attuned to the Dutch driver’s unique style and skill set, enabling him to pull ahead of the competition effortlessly once he’s on the track.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion expressed his desire for more competitive balance at the front of the grid. Nonetheless, he offered due credit to Red Bull Racing for their technological supremacy. Button’s acknowledgment underscores the crucial role that engineering and design play in Formula 1, where the right car can make all the difference.
“I think Lewis has had some very tough team-mates. He’s had World Champions as team-mates, whereas Max hasn’t.
“But for me, I would be more fearful going up against Max in the same car – and I think it is because the car is designed around his style, or he can drive a car that Adrian Newey gives him.
“I think Adrian Newey gives him a car and says: ‘This is the quickest car in the world. If you take away front downforce, it’s going to go slower, but it’ll be easier to drive’ and Max is like: ‘Right. I have to drive how you’ve made this car and I need to drive it as quick as I can.’
“So I think that he’s very good at that, and I think a lot of drivers struggle to compete with that. It’s a long answer, but it’s a difficult one.
“I think Lewis has had more difficult team-mates, but I also wouldn’t want to go up against Max. I mean, they’re all unbelievable drivers. The best in the world, and some of the best we’ve ever seen in Formula 1.”
In conclusion, Jenson Button’s candid remarks shed light on the intricate dynamics of Formula 1 rivalries. While Hamilton and Verstappen continue to captivate the motorsport world with their on-track battles, Button’s insights remind us that the performance of a Formula 1 driver is intrinsically tied to the car they drive. As the 2023 Formula 1 season unfolds, fans can only anticipate more exhilarating showdowns between these two titans of the sport.
“I wish there was more competition at the front between Max, Lewis, Fernando [Alonso], those three for me are the ones that stand out.
“But it’s not the way in Formula 1, it’s a technology race and Red Bull, fair play to them, they’re doing a better job right now.”