Jenson Button ‘disagrees’ on Mercedes dynamic with fair Lewis Hamilton treatment verdict

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Lewis Hamilton looking tense with a prominent Mercedes logo alongside him

Lewis Hamilton will end his long and successful association with Mercedes at the end of this season

Jenson Button is confident that Mercedes will give Lewis Hamilton “equal treatment” for the duration of the F1 2024 season after George Russell was given the the team’s only new front wing for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Having been a fixture in the top three throughout practice – even topping the opening session on Friday – Hamilton was forced to settle for seventh on the grid, 0.078 seconds adrift of team-mate Russell.

Jenson Button weighs in on Lewis Hamilton’s situation at Mercedes

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

It marked the seventh time in eight races in the F1 2024 season that Russell has started ahead of Hamilton on the grid.

Hamilton revealed unprompted after the session that he was already “automatically” two tenths down heading into qualifying in Monte Carlo, with Russell the only one competing with the team’s upgraded front wing this weekend.

He told Sky F1: “We’ve really been working hard to improve this car and from the get go it felt great and we were obviously competitive yesterday and this morning.

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“We’re not making any drastic changes or anything like that.

“The team have worked really hard back at the factory to bring an upgrade in the last two races and also an update this weekend – but we only have one, which George has.

“So I anticipated it would be difficult to outqualify George because he has the upgraded component, but it’s just great to see that we are bringing upgrades.

“But once we get to qualifying, I don’t understand. I already know automatically that I’m going to lose two tenths going into qualifying.

“That’s definitely frustrating and something that I don’t really have an answer for at the moment.

“I’m not driving any differently, the laps were really great. I’m just lacking something.”

Hamilton, who announced in February that he will join Ferrari on a multi-year contract in F1 2025, went on to claim that he does not “anticipate” qualifying ahead of Russell for the majority of this season.

The seven-time World Champion’s comments have raised suggestions that Mercedes could be giving upgrade priority to Russell as the team prepare to part ways with Hamilton.

Appearing in his capacity as a Sky F1 pundit in Monaco, however, Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate Button has argued that Mercedes will continue to offer equal treatment to their drivers until the end of F1 2024.

Asked if it is inevitable that Mercedes will sway towards Russell, Button said: “I would be surprised.

“I think that because of what Lewis has done for this team – obviously they gave him a car to fight for a championship – I disagree. I don’t think that will be the case.

“Maybe they won’t tell him what the parts are and how much quicker they’re going to be, but they will give them equal treatment.”

Speaking to media including the morning Hamilton’s move to Ferrari was confirmed over the winter, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff insisted that the team would remain “transparent and fair” ahead of Hamilton’s departure.

But he conceded that team and driver were both likely to face “new and challenging situations” over the course of F1 2024.

He said: “I think what I’ve always tried to do as a team principal, and all of us at Mercedes, is to be transparent and fair – and nothing’s going to change in that respect in 2024.

“We owe it to our principles and our racing intent, how we go about [racing], and we will respect that. And I will [ensure] that the drivers will respect that.

“In terms of the development going forward, I think this is something which we need to look at.

“The regulations stay pretty much the same and when it comes to 2025, we will evaluate later in the season what it means in terms of technical information.

“But that’s not something that bothers me at all. We have engineers that leave us and go to other teams, and the notice periods are sometimes as short as six months, so I don’t have any doubt about Lewis’s integrity in terms of sharing information in that respect.

“I just want to make sure – we want to make sure – that this is a successful season – a successful season for both drivers and a successful season for Mercedes all of us will give our utmost to achieve that.

“It’s definitely a new situation to manage, for Lewis and the team, but it is something that when you focus on the really short term – and this is the racing team that’s been deployed to run the product – it doesn’t have a big impact on everything that’s happening going forward on the development side.

“I’m always interested in new and challenging situations and I’m balancing 2024 Mercedes interests versus 2025 driver interests.

“It’s something that we will openly discuss at the beginning, how to manage that, and for sure come to a good outcome between us.”

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