Jenson Button believes it is imperative for Max Verstappen’s career that Red Bull produces a car good enough for him to fight for the Formula 1 world championship in 2019.

Red Bull has ended its long-term partnership with Renault in favour of a switch to Honda power units for the upcoming campaign, having been convinced by the improvements the Japanese manufacturer has made with its sister squad Toro Rosso during 2018. 

Five-time grand prix winner Verstappen bounced back from a crash-strewn start to last season to end the year by scoring the most points of any driver except world champion Lewis Hamilton, with the Dutchman racking up two victories in Austria and Mexico. 

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New Sky Sports F1 pundit and 2009 F1 world champion Button reckons Verstappen will begin to ask questions about his future if Red Bull’s gamble with Honda fails to pay off. 

“It’s tricky with Max. He’s always moving forward and he’s always looking for something else. He jumps into a Red Bull and wins his first race,” Button told Sky Sports. 

“This year is a really important year for him to keep it moving. He has to be fighting for the championship or I think he’s going to start asking questions about where he should be in the future.”

The 21-year-old will spearhead Red Bull’s challenge in 2019 following Daniel Ricciardo’s shock departure to join Renault. 

Verstappen will instead be partnered at Red Bull by Pierre Gasly, who has been promoted from Toro Rosso, and Button is backing the 2016 GP2 champion to be an instant hit. 

“He has a new teammate in Pierre Gasly, who I rate very highly and he’s still very young in the sport,” Button said. 

“He’s a good kid and I think he will fit very well into the Red Bull family at the top level.”