Jenson Button has backed Lewis Hamilton to fight for an eighth World title next season, but concedes that will depend on Mercedes closing the gap to Red Bull.
Two years ago Hamilton was in the thick of the title race as the Briton fought Max Verstappen for the 2021 crown, which ultimately went to the Red Bull driver with a final-lap-of-the-season pass on his Mercedes rival.
Vowing to fight back and regain the title, little did Hamilton know 2021 would be the last season in which he’d win a grand prix, never mind fight for the Drivers’ Championship.
Jenson Button backs Mercedes to emerge as Red Bull’s main challenger
Mercedes fell short of the benchmark set by Red Bull with the introduction of 2022’s all-new technical regulations and the ground effect aerodynamic cars.
Bouncing from one grand prix to another, the W13 would win just one race that went to George Russell with Hamilton recording his first-ever win-less season in Formula 1.
This year there have been signs of encouragement most notably after Mercedes put a B-spec W14 on the track at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The team, though, is still lagging behind Red Bull who have gone on a march, winning nine from nine with Verstappen racing out to a 81-point lead in the Drivers’ standings over his team-mate Sergio Perez. Hamilton is P4, a further 42 points off the pace.
It begs the question can the 38-year-old, who is in talks with Mercedes about extending his contract for at least another season if not longer, ever win the elusive eighth World title.
“Yeah, I think so,” Button told On Track GP, the YouTube channel launched in partnership between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports, when asked if Hamilton can win that ‘final title’.
“I think next year there’s every possibility Mercedes would be quite a great team.
“They’re a little bit behind Red Bull at the moment so it’s tricky as the regulations don’t really change.
“But if anyone can challenge them, it’s definitely Mercedes.”
“Lewis will be ready there to fight for the championship,” he added.
Watch all of the 2009 World Champion’s thoughts speaking to On Track GP by clicking on the video below, and you can head to the full YouTube channel, launched in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports, to subscribe and watch our videos from the season so far.