Lewis Hamilton has been backed to win a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 title by his old McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who won the 2009 Championship. Retired from F1 in 2017, Button believes Hamilton will keep going and surpass Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher and Hamilton are level with seven titles each, but Hamilton could go ahead of the German legend if he wins the 2022 F1 competition.
Bettors who fancy the Brit to do just that can get odds of around 5/4 with bet365 Australia.
And Button certainly believes in his compatriot, telling Good Morning Britain: “I really do hope he will be racing [next year], I think he will be racing.
“You know he wants to win that eighth title and be the most decorated Formula 1 driver in F1 history. He will do that, I really do think so.”
Button: Formula 1 is in an amazing place
Last year’s controversial ending to the final race saw Hamilton denied an eighth championship by Verstappen, leading to speculation that the 37-year-old could retire.
Button added: “It was a controversial end to the season, but I think you’ve got to look at the season as a whole. Formula 1 is in an amazing place, two fantastic drivers going at it every weekend, and I think everyone is excited about the new season.
“New regulations and it’s all about the development of these cars throughout the year.”
Hamilton remains under contract with Mercedes until the end of the 2023 season, but that has not stopped whispers saying he could walk away after the hotly-debated ending in Abu Dhabi.
Pre-season testing will begin for the new campaign in under a month’s time, with Mercedes set to launch their new car on February 18.
Horner: I’m sure Hamilton will decide what’s best for him
Christian Horner – British Team Principal of Red Bull Racing – also wants Hamilton to keep driving: “I certainly hope Lewis will be around this year. He’s still driving at an incredible level, the two drivers last year were in a league of their own.
“But ultimately, it’s his choice, it’s his career, it’s his decision, so I’m sure he will decide what’s best for him, what he wants to do, and that’s none of our business.”
On the controversial ending to that final-day race, Horner said: “Yes look, at the end of the day we’re a sport, we’re not saving lives. It’s hard and competitive, but there has to be a respect at the end of it.
“It’s been a long, hard, tough year, last season and that’s why I went to see Toto [Wolff] following the end of the race. Unfortunately, he wasn’t about, but I did manage to speak with Lewis and his father.”
It was Bernie Ecclestone – former chief executive of the Formula 1 Group – who fanned the flames of Hamilton retiring recently.
Ecclestone: I don’t think Lewis is coming back
“I think he will not race next year,” Ecclestone said at the end of December. “His disappointment in Abu Dhabi was too great, and I understand him.
“A couple of days ago I spoke with his father. I realised immediately that he did not want to talk about the future of his son, so we just talked about business,” added Ecclestone.
Hamilton has not posted on his social media accounts since the disappointment in the Middle East, despite usually being prolific on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The last post to his 6.9-million Twitter followers and 26.7m Instagram followers was on December 11 last year, with his 5.9-million Facebook followers getting an update earlier that week.
The new F1 season kicks off in Bahrain on March 20.
Hamilton’s last Tweet:
P2 on the front row tomorrow, not bad since I prefer the battle. We’re looking strong and feeling focused — we’ve got to dig deeper than ever before. LET’S GO ‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/3Pd3tjHQsp
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) December 11, 2021