Lewis Hamilton delaying retirement because of title rival Max Verstappen – Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Former world champion Jenson Button believes his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton is being spurred by title rival Max Verstappen to stay in Formula One longer after the championship battle took a new twist around the streets of Monaco.
Uncomfortable in the car all weekend, Hamilton had a weekend to forget in the principality finishing seventh on track, whereas Verstappen inherited pole position thanks to a stricken Ferrari and triumphed for his maiden Monaco win on Sunday.
And the tables have now turned with a new twist in the championship, with the seven-time world champion now trailing Verstappen by four points in the driver’s standings, with just a single point between Red Bull and Mercedes in the constructors.
Button offered his thoughts on the situation, believing that Hamilton could be more inclined to stay racing longer with the emergence of Verstappen as a real threat.
“When you’re winning, it’s difficult to retire,” Button told PlanetF1.
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“I think this year is extra motivation because Max is there and Max is super talented, his natural ability is just insane.
“I think Lewis is the most complete driver and don’t forget natural ability isn’t something you’ve worked for, it’s something you’ve been given.
“For me, a driver that works hard and develops his skills is the best driver in the world, and I think that Lewis has really worked and fine-tuned his skills and at the moment he is the guy to beat, he is the best in the world.
“Max, with his natural ability, is able to challenge Lewis, but he’s not as complete as Lewis.
“One, because he has never won a World Championship and has never been through that rollercoaster, and two, because he doesn’t have the experience of Lewis and Lewis has put in the hours, he’s put in the time to develop as a driver.”
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Hamilton and Verstappen have reaffirmed many times throughout the season the mutual respect that defines their racing relationship after close wheel-to-wheel racing across the opening four races.
“It’s been really cool, especially when you race a driver and you know that you can go to the absolute limit,” Verstappen said of their close competition this season.
“I guess you can trust each other to just race super-hard.
“That’s always really nice because you can see in the three races we’ve had it’s been really close to each other but predictable. Lewis has never felt something like: ‘Oh, we’re going to crash,’ or something. I always have full trust in Lewis that we all give each other enough space.”
“I just second that,” Hamilton responded to Verstappen’s comments. “I think it is naturally down to respect and I think both are very, very hard but fair.
“That’s what makes great racing and great racing drivers and I think we will continue to keep it clean and keep it on the edge but I don’t think either of us has a plan to get any closer than we have been.”
Monaco became the first race all season where we didn’t see a scrap between the two, with the battle continuing in Baku on June 6.
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