Jenson Button believes Lewis Hamilton will win an eighth World Championship in 2021, and from 2022 the fun will really begin.
There could be no ‘it was the car argument‘ for how Hamilton wrapped up his seventh World Championship at the Turkish Grand Prix, putting him level with Michael Schumacher at the very top of Formula 1.
After qualifying P6 at a wet and slippery Istanbul Park, Hamilton was up against it come race day with the Mercedes looking far from comfortable in the tricky conditions.
While Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas would spin twice in the early stages Hamilton kept himself out of danger and pulled off a one-stop strategy to go from P6 to victory. By the end of the race his intermediate tyres were worn down to slicks.
And it was that strategic mind which Button said Hamilton was missing when they raced together at McLaren between 2010-2012.
“Lewis, for me, was always known for his outright speed,” Button told Sky Sports News.
“This race was a little different, there were less overtaking moves and it was more strategy.
“I think that’s what made it even more impressive with Lewis – he understood what was needed with those tyres in those drying conditions. In terms of strategy, Lewis has grown so much over that area and that’s made him the complete package that he is.
“Seven-time champion – that is outstanding.
“I could never hang with him and his outright pace. But in the race conditions I could because I don’t think his strategy was there then.
“He’s learnt so much over the years and that’s what makes a truly great driver. He’s always willing to learn and improve. To win so many World Championships on the bounce is very impressive.”
Lewis Hamilton having dinner with all the drivers that are better than him … pic.twitter.com/1I1WuhmW7S
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) November 16, 2020
Hamilton said after the Turkish GP that he feels like he is “just getting started” and still has plenty of work ahead of him to help lead Formula 1 into a more sustainable future.
Button doesn’t believe anyone can stop his compatriot winning a record eighth World Championship in 2021, but he hopes in 2022 that the order can be reset under the new regulations so that Hamilton will have a fight on his hands for a potential ninth title, if he sticks around.
“Winning is the best motivation,” said Button.
“Drivers that have a long career in F1, if they’re winning they will continue racing because that’s what you love. When you’re not winning it becomes a lot more difficult and that’s when your career comes to and end normally, but I don’t see that happening any time soon for Lewis.
“He wants to win more World Championships than anyone else before and I’m sure he would love that.
“Drivers always say we don’t look at numbers, we don’t compare, but you’re always going to compare yourself to Michael Schumacher when you have the same world titles.
“Those two are extraordinary individuals, very different in their personalities and the way they go racing but equally as talented. Lewis is in the right place to beat Michael’s record and I really think he will next year. Then the regulations change in 2022 and that’s when it gets really exciting, to see where that takes him and Mercedes for the future.”
“I really do hope in 2022 that other teams can challenge Mercedes because it makes for a better sport, and also Lewis would enjoy more of a challenge from the likes of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo.
“That’s really what the sport wants to see – him fighting at the front for those victories.”