Jenson Button has predicted his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton will be “on it” from the get-go for the 2023 season.
In 2022, Hamilton endured the worst season of his career with the W13 failing to provide him a win, the only car of his career to do so.
But even at the age of 38, there has been significantly less talk this year than there was last season about a possible Hamilton retirement with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirming the initial contract extension “chat” had taken place between the two parties.
Perhaps then it is the form of the W13 towards the end of 2022, with Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell earning Mercedes’ sole win in Sao Paulo, and a desire to prove his doubters wrong that has encouraged the seven-time World Champion to seek an extended stay in the sport.
Button suspects as much and said that a car not able to compete for wins was the reason why a lot of Formula 1 drivers retire.
“It is something we all go through at some point in our career and it’s a reason why a lot of people retire,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“They’re not in a winning car anymore and 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, then you are like ‘you know what, I’ve had enough. I want to get out.’
“Mercedes have given him a winning car for so many years. Last year obviously they didn’t, but the car did win a race last year. 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. So I look forward to seeing that.
“It’s going to put a lot of pressure on George Russell at Mercedes but I think it’s a good pairing and I look forward to that fight.”
Button went on to state that the Mercedes car was the “most beautiful” car unveiled this winter but was surprised there was not more significant change to the sidepods.
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“Red Bull always come out with a good car,” Button said when discussing possible title candidates. “I think they’d be competitive.
“The Ferrari looks nice. It looks really nice. It looks like they’ve worked on areas where they were weak and they’ve taken some risks in other areas.
“It’s strange about Mercedes because the car, I would say it’s beautiful, it’s the most beautiful car, but they might possibly be changing the sidepods.
“I’m surprised they didn’t do that over the winter rather than into the season but they obviously believe in the style they have right now for the first few races.
“I look forward to that fight at the front. We all hope for that three manufacturers at the front fighting for the Championship don’t we? And I think we’ll get that at some point this season.”