2009 F1 champion Jenson Button says both himself and Lewis Hamilton could have been world champions with McLaren had they not driven for the same team.
“He beat me in qualifying, he won more races than me,” said Button.
“I think I won eight races and he won 10 races. So it was pretty close. We had a lot of great races in our time together. For me, he was quicker than me in qualifying.
“I outqualified him a few times, but in the race that’s when I would come into my own and I knew how to work with the car, work with the tyres, work the strategy in mixed conditions especially.”
The Briton believes they both could have been world champions with McLaren had they not split race wins between each other.
“I loved our fights and it was sad when he left the team. And I wish I had the opportunity to race against him in a winning car, a Championship-winning car. We weren’t good enough to win the Championship.
“To be fair though, if one of us wasn’t in the other car we might have won the Championship. We took so many wins off each other.
“One year we won six races, three each…imagine if the other guy wasn’t there.”
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The partnership ended when Hamilton moved to Mercedes in 2013. However, Button had an opportunity to join the team in 2010, in its first year back in Formula 1. More precisely, he was already driving for Brawn GP in 2009 and the team was sold to Mercedes after he won the championship.
“Mercedes, I don’t think anyone will beat them for many years to come. What a team, I mean what a team! Lewis, it’s phenomenal what he has achieved, but what a team.
“They have won every year since 2014, every year of hybrid.”
“I remember being sat in a hotel room [with Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal at the time] after we won the Championship.
“We were in Dubai, we were sat there and were discussing 2010, he said ‘Nico Rosberg is going to be your team-mate and Mercedes are going to buy the team, but they’re not going to fund the team, they’re going to buy the team and it will be funded by sponsorship money’.
“I thought ‘okay, that’s kind of interesting’, but for me I felt it wasn’t the right place to be because McLaren had come strong at the end of the season, they had the budget and you look at their history as well of winning over the years,” concluded the Briton.