Jenson Button believes this season’s Lewis Hamilton is the ‘best we’ve seen” in Formula 1 as he is at his calmest and most confident.
Hamilton may find himself 12 points behind World Championship leader Max Verstappen after seven rounds, but the seven-time World Champion has received praise for putting up a good fight against Red Bull in what is arguably now an inferior W12 car.
Formula 1’s managing director, Ross Brawn, was particular glowing in his praise following the French Grand Prix, saying it was testament to Hamilton’s ability that he was still unable to pick a winner with five laps to go even with Hamilton on a sub-optimal race strategy compared to Verstappen, who two-stopped his way to victory.
The praise for Hamilton has continued with 2009 World Champion, and Hamilton’s former team-mate, of the belief that he has really changed for the better in this gruelling 2021 campaign.
“From his time from McLaren to Mercedes he changed, yes, but this year is completely different,” Button told Express Sport.
“You walk in the paddock high-fiving people and calling them by their name and it’s like, where have you been this winter?
“It’s great to see, he’s just confident in his own ability, which is great, really great to see that he’s comfortable in his own skin.
“That for me is a big talking point of the year – how he’s changed this year.
“He’s so much calmer in the car. There’s still the adrenaline, right? And then you say things that maybe after the race you regret.
“But when he’s out of the car, he’s so calm. Monaco’s a tough race, you know, but I learned a lot and I’m moving forward.
“It’s great to hear. And I do think it’s from the heart and it’s the truth, which is good.”
The grind never stops 💪 Onto the next battle… bring it on! 👊 pic.twitter.com/9Y1iBxhIBn
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) June 22, 2021
He continued: “I think in the past, there have been moments where he’s wanted to say something, then you see him collect himself, and he’s like what should I actually say right now?
“And then he changes his answer, so you can see it, you can see his brain working.
“And that has been the case before. And when we were team-mates, that would happen as well.
“But now I do just feel he’s confident in his skin and he is saying what he thinks, which is really good to see. And I think it’s the best Lewis Hamilton we’ve seen.”