Jenson Button has given his verdict on Lewis Hamlton’s backing for Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas amid criticism of the Finnish driver. Hamilton insisted Mercedes had “the best line-up” after it was claimed earlier this month that the F1 team was “losing faith” in Bottas.
Bottas had to retire from in Monaco earlier this month, having also failed to finish the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in April.
The 31-year-old, who is fourth in the standings, was defended by Hamilton earlier this month after the Daily Mail quoted a Mercedes source stating the Finn was “not up to it”.
Hamilton told people to get off his team-mate’s back, saying Bottas had been “an amazing team-mate”.
Button says Bottas is “not quick enough” – but helieves Hamilton is happy as long as his team-mate is ahead of Max Verstappen’s fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez.
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And the 2009 world champion would like to see his fellow Brit have a more competitive team-mate to provide a better spectacle for the fans.
Asked whether he felt Bottas was being held back by his team, Button told Planet F1: “Lewis is in a really good place, he’s confident in himself, and I always said that every driver has a weakness but at the moment Lewis isn’t really showing any weaknesses so that hurts, it’s tough to beat him like that.
“But Valtteri just hasn’t been quick enough, that’s it, he’s not quick enough at the moment. In qualifying he’s done a great job at times but in the race, he’s generally not on Lewis’s pace.”
Rumours have suggested that Bottas could be replaced by Mercedes junior driver and current Williams ace George Russell, with some even believing Mercedes could consider making a rare mid-season change to better support Hamilton in his battle against Max Verstappen and Red Bull in the title fight.
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Asked about the speculation, Button said: “Well, the trouble is he’s doing a better job than Checo in the Red Bull so that’s all they need him to do.
“Lewis is backing Valtteri as he will because it means that he gets all the glory.
“Valtteri kind of challenges him in qualifying, which pushes him, but in the race it’s an easy win for Lewis, and the environment is good because Lewis backs Valtteri and Valtteri is not really challenging Lewis, they work together. It’s a great situation for everyone apart from the fans.”
Asked whether fans wanted to see two top drivers in the same team, Button added: “The teams don’t, but everyone else does.
“Fans want it and that’s what the sport should be.
“It’s a tricky one isn’t it? When me and Lewis were team-mates we took wins off of each other, one of us could have probably won the World Championship if the other didn’t win the races that they did.
“I finished second in 2011, Lewis almost won in 2010, and if we didn’t take wins off of each other we would have won the championship.
“But that’s the way Formula 1 should be: having two great drivers in a team that can fight for a World Championship.”
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