Jenson Button holds Lewis Hamilton in high regard for his outstanding talent, but the 2009 world champion also underlines his former teammate and F1 rival’s clean ethics.
Button spent three seasons alongside Hamilton at McLaren between 2010 and 2013, and while the two drivers often battled each other wheel-to-wheel, common sense and mutual respect kept clashes at bay.
In an interview with GQ Magazine, Button revisited the period spent alongside the now six-time world champion but also assessed how the Mercedes star has evolved.
“I don’t know Lewis now that well. Lewis in 2012 was an extremely talented driver, whose whole life was about racing,” Button said.
“I had to work so hard to beat him, and obviously it didn’t happen all the time. But it happened enough that I was happy with what I achieved.
“On balance he out-qualified me, but I could race him, and use my head because it wasn’t all about driving flat-out in a Grand Prix. It isn’t now.
“But Lewis has learnt a lot since then. He’s always looking after the tyres, the fuel, the car… he knows what he’s doing.”
But beyond Hamilton’s remarkable skills, Button underscored his former rival’s fairness and impeccable track record.
“He’s in a position now where he can relax and think about other things in addition to driving the car,” added Button.
“He can be very outspoken and I think it’s great that he is. It will help the sport and the diversity of the sport.
“Whether or not you’re a fan of Lewis as a person, you should definitely be a fan of him as a driver.
“He is exceptionally talented, and he does not play games. He will never play dirty. In fact, I think he’s the cleanest guy I ever raced against.”
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