Jenson Button thinks there are shades of Alonso/Hamilton in the Vettel/Leclerc dynamic at Ferrari – but is predicting a stronger relationship in 2020.
The Ferrari drivers had a number of flashpoints throughout the 2019 season as Leclerc’s immediate threat blurred the proposed No.1 and No.2 roles throughout the year at the Scuderia.
That power struggle reminded the 2009 World Champion of another memorable driver pairing – Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.
“When there’s a young gun in your team – we found it with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton when they were team-mates in McLaren – it does hurt the experienced driver a little bit,” Button told Sky Sports News.
“But once you get over that and look at him as an equal it’s very different and I think they will work well together.
“I hope they do, because it’s important for the championship.
“I think Sebastian now understands how quick his team-mate is and I think they’ll have a much better relationship this year.
“They obviously want to beat each other but I do think that pairing is very strong.
“In terms of setting up a car, Sebastian looks very good at doing that. He spends more hours than anyone with the engineers and trying to fine-tune things here and there.”
Button also feels Ferrari could have managed the situation better as it developed in 2019.
“They had a few incidents in 2019, hopefully this year that won’t be the case,” Button added.
“They are both very quick.
“I think last year they were both trying to find their position in the team. The new guy coming in, Charles Leclerc, and getting more pole positions than anyone, and Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion.
“Two very talented drivers and I think after that first year together now they can really work as a team and focus on fighting Mercedes, not just fighting each other.
“It’s a tough one, but it needs to be managed well and I don’t think it was maybe at certain points last year within Ferrari.”
2020 is a crucial year for Vettel as he enters the final 12 months of his Ferrari contract, but Button thinks he can work himself into title contention if he can rediscover his old form.
“It’s an important year for him,” added Button.
“Last year he got beaten by his team-mate on points, this year he’s really got to go out there and show what he can do. If he does, he’ll be fighting for that world championship.”