2009 World Champion Jenson Button lauded the Mercedes driver line-up of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, but warns we should not sleep on Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri at McLaren.
As Mercedes prepare for F1 2024, with the clear goal of returning to the title picture after two seasons away, the pairing of Hamilton and Russell will be at the wheel for a third campaign together.
With Hamilton, the seven-time F1 World Champion and record-holder for most victories, alongside the Mercedes academy graduate Russell, who is looking to return to the form of 2022 which saw him outscore Hamilton, the Silver Arrows boast one of the most exciting line-ups out there.
Jenson Button rates McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri
But, as excited as Button is about the Mercedes driver pairing, equally he is looking forward to seeing what is to come from Norris and Piastri at McLaren in F1 2024.
Their MCL60 started last season as one of the slowest challengers out there, but in-season developments proved to be extremely successful, launching McLaren up the order to contend for regular podiums with nine scored by the end of the season, while Piastri took sprint victory in Qatar.
Norris may have comfortably got the better of rookie Piastri statistically, claiming seven podiums to Piastri’s two and 205 points versus 97 for Piastri, but Button backs Piastri to put that experience to good use for his second season, with Norris and Piastri then continuing to elevate McLaren.
“There are some seriously strong driver line-ups,” Button told Sky Sports.
“Mercedes, can’t go past those two. I know Lewis, we were team-mates for three years, and for George to get as close as he has to Lewis is impressive.
“But in terms of the young guns at McLaren, super strong.
“Oscar with a year under his belt, he’ll have more consistency going into the 2024 season. He had glimpses of greatness [in 2023] obviously but then consistency just wasn’t there, I think he ended up with less than half the points of Lando.
“But coming into a second season he’s got that under his belt, I think he’ll be competitive. So those two drivers will definitely push McLaren forward a bit as well.”
Both Mercedes and McLaren nonetheless face a monumental F1 2024 challenge to cut down Red Bull and Max Verstappen, who won a remarkable 19 grands prix out of 22 in 2023, while Red Bull won 21 overall as an all-conquering title double was secured.