Jenson Button: Lewis Hamilton has six world titles... but you can already say he's an eight-time champion

MATT MAJENDIE
·3-min read
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Getty Images

Jenson Button has declared former team-mate Lewis Hamilton a record-breaking eight-time world champion even before wrapping up drivers’ crown No7.

Hamilton has again dominated this season and, having won six of the 10 grands prix to date, is on course to equal Michael Schumacher’s seven world titles. The 35-year-old could also draw level with the German’s 91 F1 wins at this weekend’s Eifel Grand Prix.

But Button, who joined Hamilton at McLaren after his own 2009 title win, tipped his fellow Briton to go much further in the record books.

He told Standard Sport: “You can say that he’s an eight-time world champion already. He’s only won six but he’s going to win eight. It’s a given unless Valtteri [Bottas, his team-mate] suddenly finds something consistently. I don’t know what he needs to find but he needs to find something.”

Button, along with 2016 champion Nico Rosberg, is one of the few drivers to have been able to closely match or even get the upper hand over Hamilton during their three seasons at McLaren.

With the major sporting regulation changes originally planned for 2021 now put back by a further year because of Covid-19, the Briton argued Bottas, a winner at the last race in Russia, is the only driver with a car capable of catching Hamilton this season or next.

“You want that fight but, at the moment, Mercedes are a second quicker than everyone,” said Button, speaking on behalf of Dare 2b.

“It’s a bit like the Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost era with McLaren but it’s just Lewis doesn’t have an Alain Prost. I do rate Valtteri but, at the moment, he’s just not on the same level consistently.

“Lewis needs more competition and Valtteri needs to step up for the sport or people will start turning off because people want the best to be challenged. It doesn’t take away from how good a job Lewis is doing.”

In their three seasons together, Button beat Hamilton in the points standings once and was narrowly edged out on the two other occasions.

But the retired driver said his former rival has become an improved driver in the ensuing years at Mercedes, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

“He would have gained experience,” said Button. “We learned a lot off each other, and he did from Nico, too, so you’d say he’s a more complete driver now. Plus, the buzz is still there for him — that happens when you’re still winning. You hang around forever if you’re still winning.”

Rosberg has spoken about how he took the 2016 title by winning when Hamilton’s level slipped as well as getting into the mind of his team-mate.

And Button said he had pursued a similar course: “I know him as a teammate very well and, if you don’t get in Lewis’s head, you can’t find a weakness and then you’re screwed. He is extremely fast, his natural ability, I never had that. I worked on honing my skills as a driver but also as an engineer and as a strategist.

“That was the only way to beat Lewis and, if you don’t have that, you’re not going to beat him and Valtteri’s found that this season. He’s confident and he doesn’t really feel like he’s been challenged I don’t think. That’s a dangerous Lewis.”

Button also said that Hamilton’s dominance was all the more impressive considering his anti-racism fight this season.

“He’s in a very strong position to spread awareness,” he said. “Racing a grand prix needs 100 per cent but he and the others are impressively taking time out to show they are supporting ending racism but also diversifying motorsport.”

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Dare 2b x The Jenson Button Edit is available online now

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