Jenson Button has revealed the key differences he has noticed in Lewis Hamilton since their time together as Formula 1 teammates at McLaren.

Hamilton and Button were teammates at McLaren for three seasons between 2010 and 2012 and the latter believes his former teammate, who is on the brink of clinching record-equalling seventh drivers’ title, has upped his game since making the switch to Mercedes in 2013.

But the 2009 world champion disagrees with Hamilton’s recent claim that Valtteri Bottas fails to get the credit he deserves for how competitive a rival he is, adding the Finn could and should be pushing him harder.

“Lewis is a different Lewis to what I knew,” Button recalled on The Collecting Cars Podcast. “Lewis when I knew him was lightning quick in qualifying. Like Valtteri can do.

“But in the race, he was quick, and sometimes he could get one over on you, but a lot of the time he’d make mistakes or he would not understand how to get from A to B as quick as possible. He’d try and do every lap as fast as he could, and he would destroy tyres, he would over-use fuel, choose the wrong strategy.

“But now it’s a completely different Lewis. He doesn’t do that. Also because he doesn’t have a Max Verstappen pushing him. He doesn’t have a Nico Rosberg pushing him, either. I’m not going to say my name in that because that would be weird.”

Button feels both he and Hamilton were always closely-matched during their spell together as teammates and reckons one of them could have claimed the title with McLaren had the team not fielded such a strong line-up.

“He beat me in qualifying,” Button explained. “He won more races than me. But I think I won eight, races, he won 10 races, so it was pretty close.

“We had a lot of great races in our time together. For me, he was quicker than me in qualifying. I out-qualified him a few times, but nothing like he did with me.

“But in the race, that’s when I would come into my own, and I knew how to work the cars, work the tyres, work the strategy, in mixed conditions especially. So I loved our fights. It was sad when he left the team, it really was.

“I wish I had the opportunity to race against him in a championship-winning car. If one of us wasn’t in the other car, we might have won the championship. We took so many wins off each other.”

Button also revealed he feels Max Verstappen is the outright quickest driver over one lap on the current F1 grid.

“Over one lap I think he is, over the race, who knows,” Button replied when asked if he truly believed Verstappen was the fastest driver over one lap.

“I think him and Lewis are up there. I also think Charles Leclerc is with them at the moment. I think that Danny Ric[ciardo]’s with them. I think those four stand alone at the moment.”

 

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