Jenson Button questions Mercedes atmosphere as Lewis Hamilton faces freeze

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2023 United States Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton drives the Mercedes W14.

Jenson Button believes Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes could have a tough final year working together in 2024, as his switch to Ferrari looms.

The 2009 F1 World Champion, who was teammates with Hamilton between 2010 and 2012 at McLaren, has shared his thoughts on how Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes may have to work differently together in 2024.

Hamilton looks set to make a sensational switch to Ferrari for 2025, although neither Mercedes nor Ferrari have confirmed the move at the time of writing.

Jenson Button: All eyes will be on Formula 1 with Lewis Hamilton Ferrari switch

Appearing on Sky Sports F1 for a special episode of the F1 Show, Button spoke via video link from his home in Los Angeles where he weighed in on the topic of Hamilton’s sensational switch.

“This is massive for the sport. If Lewis stayed at Mercedes – if they won races next year or didn’t win races, it would have been good. But having this shift to Ferrari is massive,” he said.

“I think it’s great for the sport. Everyone’s going to have their eyes on Formula 1, especially Ferrari and Lewis, but also how he does up against Charles Leclerc who has the contract, so I’m guessing he’s the one that’s going to be alongside Lewis at Ferrari.

“It’s a big deal making this change in your career when you’ve been with one team for so long, to suddenly jump into someone else’s team. It’s tough. So fair play to Lewis, it’s a toughie!” recommended reading

With Hamilton having to see out a final year at Mercedes before moving to Maranello, Button said it’s likely that Hamilton will be slowly frozen out at Mercedes as the year goes on – a natural occurrence as teams and drivers part ways, even if it a relationship as tight as Hamilton and Mercedes have been over the last decade.

“[After] 12 years at Mercedes, that’s longer than most people spend in Formula 1. To spend it with one team and achieve what they have, maybe he’s also wanted something different to spice it up a little bit,” Button said.

“We all get to that point in our career where it’s like’ You know what, I’ve done what I set out to achieve’, and you choose to retire. Whereas he’s gone the other route and gone, ‘You know what, I feel like I need a change. I’m gonna go to Ferrari’.

“So it’s a big deal and I cannot wait to see how he goes in the Ferrari. The weird thing is that it is quite an early call, though, to mention it this early on. It’s a year before he’ll be stepping into the Ferrari, so how is that atmosphere going to be at Mercedes?

“It’s not easy. What do they hold back from Lewis? I mean, he knows the ins and outs of this team very well anyway but, when they get down to the nitty-gritty, are there going to be certain things they hold back from Lewis? Possibly.

“For George, he’s got to start thinking about a new teammate again. Is it going to be someone like one of these karting rivals – Alex Albon, or is it gonna be Fernando Alonso, the guy that just doesn’t go away? He’s always there fighting for the top spots in the top teams. So who knows?”

Jenson Button has ‘a lot of respect’ for Ferrari move

With Hamilton opting against comfort by jumping ship from Mercedes to start over with Ferrari, Button said he’s enthralled to see how things will play out for Hamilton and the Scuderia.

“This definitely makes it an interesting year for us looking forward to 2025. We still have another year of Formula 1 to look forward to, but 2025 – this is properly exciting,” he said.

“For Lewis, this is a brave move and a lot of respect to him because he’s not just going to another team. He’s going to Ferrari, he’s going to a team where they speak Italian – a language he doesn’t know and a language Charles does know very well. This is a biggie.

“I think, for all of us, we were all little kids one day a long time ago! You see the red Ferrari, and you say, ‘I want to race for that team’.

“I didn’t get the chance to race for Ferrari, I got very, very close – contract almost in hand – but I think this is a special one for him. I just hope it goes well for him because ending your career when you’ve had such highs… ending with a team and you don’t perform there… it’s tricky.

“But I look forward to seeing Lewis and I think he’s is in a place where he’s got a lot of confidence at the moment in himself. I think he’s driving at his best. If he can carry that over to Ferrari, we’re looking forward to a great fight with him and Charles.”

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