Jenson Button would like to see Daniel Ricciardo as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate, saying he could “mentally hurt” the Briton.
Mercedes have been utterly dominant since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, collecting every Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since with Hamilton claiming five of those six Drivers’ titles.
He is in a very promising position to secure a sixth world title and record-equalling seventh overall at the upcoming Turkish GP.
Statistically, Hamilton is among the elites of the sport. He has the most race wins of any driver with 93 and is closing in on Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships, but the never-before-seen dominance of Mercedes has left a question mark against where Hamilton stands for pure talent against the greats of the past.
And Button, who partnered Hamilton at McLaren between 2010-12, believes Mercedes’ dominance has played a huge part in Hamilton’s success, but equally so has a lack of pressure from his current team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“Comparing records is a tricky one,” he told Autosport when asked about Hamilton’s standing in Formula 1.
“We all like a number and we all like to beat a number, but it’s really difficult to compare.
“All you can say is he’s done the best job he can and the team have done a fantastic job, they’ve not been beaten in the hybrid era and Lewis has won all but one Championship with them.
“I don’t see that changing either. It’s going to continue until he stops, or until he gets a team-mate that can actually challenge him.
“He’s definitely learned from his team-mates, and he’s definitely a more rounded driver than when we were team-mates. But if he had a team-mate like Max [Verstappen], we would see a different driver from Lewis.
“He needs to have that challenge, otherwise he’ll just keep doing the same thing and he’s going to keep winning the Championship.
“He needs somebody that’s going to challenge him and Mercedes. You can’t blame them because it’s easier if they’ve got one guy who is quicker than the other.
“I know Valtteri gets close in qualifying and sometimes out-qualifies him, but race pace compared to Lewis this year, he’s nowhere near him.”
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 1, 2020
Bottas is contracted to Mercedes until the end of the 2021 season, but if not the Finn then who could take the fight to Hamilton?
Mercedes junior and current Williams driver George Russell is thought to be first in line once a seat with the Silver Arrows becomes available.
But Button thinks the driver who could really go into the team and mentally hurt Hamilton is Daniel Ricciardo.
“I don’t think George is ready to be up against Lewis yet, there aren’t many drivers that are,” Button admitted.
“Max, Charles and Daniel Ricciardo – that’s it I reckon, those are the guys that are ready to challenge Lewis.
“I’d love to see Danny Ric up against Lewis, because I think he would mentally hurt Lewis a lot.
“He would be quick and he would laugh everything off, he would be so relaxed, so down to earth, he’s a proper character and I know that most drivers would find that difficult.”