Jenson Button pinpoints ‘only thing that can save us’ after Max Verstappen US GP sprint dominance

Sam Cooper
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen won the sixth sprint race of his career in Austin.

Jenson Button believes Max Verstappen’s starting position for sixth is the “only thing that can save us” from another dominant win.

If there was any hope that the sprint race would be a competitive one, that was soon put to bed with Verstappen holding off a lunge from Charles Leclerc into the opening corner before then keeping Lewis Hamilton at arm’s length.

For fans hoping for an exciting race on Sunday, that sprint performance did not inspire confidence but there is one difference between the sprint and Sunday’s race – Verstappen’s starting position.

Max Verstappen admits ‘we have a race on our hands’

After a messy flying lap which saw a lock up into Turn 1 and then a breaking of the track limits at Turn 19, Verstappen saw his Friday quali lap deleted and he was forced to settle for his second-best effort.

That effort was good enough to put him sixth but does now leave him with work to do if he wants to win his third consecutive race.

Button believes Verstappen’s starting position is the “only thing that can save us” from another win for Red Bull.

“I think amazingly they [the drivers] were so close in qualifying and they were so not in the sprint race,” Button said on Sky Sports F1. “The only thing that saves us for tomorrow is that Max starts sixth and we can say ‘he’s that much quicker than everyone, it’s going to be easy.’

“It’s not going to be easy. Overtaking here isn’t easy and they proved that in that race. It wasn’t very exciting because it was difficult to overtake so it’s still going to be a challenge for him tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to come up behind Lewis.”

Verstappen recognised that fact as well, stating “we have a race on our hands.”

“Of course, it’s not ideal to start P6 but the pace of the car seems quite strong and hopefully on higher fuel loads tomorrow, we can do something similar,” Verstappen said.

“But it’s one thing to be faster, we have to also try and get by a few cars this time so with the deg around here, that’s not going to be straightforward. I’m trying to follow also through the high speed but we have a race on our hands I think.”