Jenson Button says he was able to produce his best racing of his Formula 1 career when partnered with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren – rather than his world championship-winning campaign of 2009.

The British driver has given insight into his rivalry with Hamilton having joined the Woking-based squad as a reigning world champion in 2010 after sealing the F1 title with Brawn the year before.

Button says he always had huge respect for his fellow countryman and believed they had a healthy rivalry in F1 despite the odd tense moment as team-mates at McLaren which came to a head at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

“Did he like being beaten by his teammate? Probably not, but he’s a competitor and I’m sure that like me he relished the challenge. That’s why we do what we do,” Button reveals in his autobiography Life to the Limit. “Personally, he was fine with me, but you could just tell he was a little bit peeved.

“I don’t think that I was to his taste, if I’m honest. And things took a bit of a turn for the worse in Turkey, when we almost had a collision that led to a minor falling-out between us.”

But after patching up their relationship, Button feels having Hamilton next to him enabled him to produce his best performances in F1. Button has held his hands up at Hamilton being the better qualifier – the four-time F1 world champion now holds the all-time pole position record – but felt he could beat his team-mate in races during their three years together.

“In a race, I could challenge him, and we could race for wins,” Button told Sky Sports. “Over those three years we won a lot and some of the races I did win were the best races in my career, because I had to beat Lewis to achieve them.”

Button outscored Hamilton on points during their three years as team-mates at McLaren before Hamilton’s move to Mercedes in 2013 which is an honour he shares with only Nico Rosberg after the German won the 2016 F1 world title against Hamilton.

Button retired from F1 at the end of the 2016 season, except for a one-off appearance last year at Monaco as Fernando Alonso’s stand-in, and is turning his attention to Super GT with Honda in 2018.

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