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MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 18: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 18, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Button: Hamilton vs Verstappen… I look forward to the fight

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 18: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 18, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Jenson Button is convinced Lewis Hamilton can take the fight to Max Verstappen if Mercedes can provide the Briton with a Formula 1 car on the level of the Dutchman’s Red Bull RB19.

The RB20 is sure to be an evolution the car that won 21 of the 22 GPs this past season. That alone should strike fear into their rivals as they are sure to be the team to beat. Mercedes, for example, need to find at least a couple of seconds in race pace and a second or so in qualifying trim.

It’s a tough ask but Aston Martin found some magic last year during the winter. As did McLaren albeit only late into the first half of the season when they realised they had a dud for a car. By the end of the year, it was at the sharp end regularly, bettered only by the mighty RBR19 plus Max combo. Mercedes can find inspiration from their customer teams.

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Despite acknowledging Red Bull as the team to beat in 2o24, Button told Japan Times that Hamilton still has it in him to challenge Verstappen again: “Lewis wouldn’t race if he didn’t think he wasn’t good enough. Lewis is definitely good enough to win races and to win a championship… with the right car.”

Button like every F1 fan ‘knows’ Red Bull will be the team to beat in 2024

Button: Hamilton vs Verstappen... I look forward to the fight

“Coming up against Max is difficult but if Lewis is in a car that suits him and Max is in a car that suits him. … I look forward to that fight. Hopefully we will see it before Lewis retires, he’s definitely got the ability to do that,” insisted Button who was Hamilton’s teammate for three F1 seasons at McLaren from 2010 until 2012.

Regarding reigning F1 World Champs and their star driver Verstappen, Button said: “Red Bull are going to be at the front again next year. They had a strong car this year and they’ve been able to work on next year’s car.

“The thing is, if you just look at the results of the race, you go ‘Oh Max Verstappen won again,’ but when you actually watch the races…There’ve been some amazing races this year.

“Max hasn’t had it all his own way. He’s come out on top in the end but there have been some great fights this season. I have enjoyed the year. Would I like more people winning? Yes of course. But it’s just not happened.”

As for how Verstappen won the 2023 F1 title, Button stated: “Max has done such an amazing job, not put a foot wrong. Sure he is driving a good car, you don’t win without a good car. You have to compare him to where his teammate was in most races. It’s a big difference.”

Button: It’s not going to be easy to beat Max [as said by all!]

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 15: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 and Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 15, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Indeed it was. Although Sergio Perez started well with a couple of early wins, after Miami the Mexican veteran’s challenge faded fast. His form vanished to crisis point, when not making it into Qualifying Q3 became a curse.

In the end, Verstappen’s remarkable score of 575 points, in the 2023 F1 WDC, was double what Checo could muster on his way to P2. More than both Mercedes drivers – Hamilton and George Russell – could manage for their team in the WCC standings. They were runner-up to the Champions. In other words Max won everything for the team singlehandedly!

“Going into 2024, Red Bull are still the favourites but I think the other teams will be a bit closer. It’s not going to be easy to beat Max in a Red Bull if his head is in the right place,” warned Button.

The 43-year-old, 2009 F1 World Champion recently confirmed he will drive a Porsche 963 in the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Hertz Team JOTA.

Big Question: How much to Mercedes have to find relative to Red Bull for Lewis Hamilton’s wish to come true?