Verstappen F1 title three-peat won’t be a walk in the park
By Ian Parkes
Monday 13th March, 2023 - 9:33pm
Former F1 champion Jenson Button does not believe a third successive Formula 1 title for Max Verstappen will be as easy as is being claimed.
Red Bull driver Verstappen started the latest defence of his championship with consummate ease, finishing 12 seconds clear of team-mate Sergio Perez, with third-placed Fernando Alonso in his Aston Martin over 38 seconds back.
Despite the RB19 appearing to be the class act of the 10-team field, Button feels the performance of the car and Verstappen cannot be truly judged until F1 has taken in other circuits.
“I watched the race (Bahrain GP), the Red Bulls are right in front, and it looked like a relatively easy race, especially for Max,” said Button, speaking to selected media including Speedcafe.
“Was it too easy for Max? Yes, it was. I know that a lot of drivers have said it’s going to be an easy championship for Red Bull and Max.
“But how can you say that? We’ve only tested at one track and we’ve only raced at one track.”
Saudi circuit will offer more insight
Button, the 2009 F1 champion with Brawn GP, feels the Bahrain International Circuit is “very unique in the way the cars work there”.
He added: “It’s a heavy-braking traction circuit, it’s not so much about high speed. So we can’t say that.
“We will understand a bit more after Saudi, which is more of a fast-flowing track, and also when we get to some of the European races.
“So no, it’s not a walk in the park for Red Bull and Max. It’s a great start to the season and very different from what they had last year.
“But I still think we’re going to have some very, very close fights. I don’t think it’s going to be a straightforward win for Red Bull and Max.”
Button buoyed by Hamilton Alonso scrap
It was a crushingly dominant overall performance from Verstappen as the Dutchman finished 0.138s ahead of Perez in qualifying, with Red Bull’s nearest rival over one lap in Charles Leclerc, three-tenths of a second off the pace.
Despite the comfort Verstappen enjoyed across the weekend, which has led to suggestions of another championship cruise, Button was at least buoyed by the action elsewhere throughout the field.
Not least was the battle that saw Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Alonso go up against one another.
“I loved the first race,” said Button. “I thought it was action-packed, and that’s what I look for – great racing and great fights.
“And to see two multiple world champions going at it, Lewis and Fernando, was pretty special.”
The second round of this year’s F1 championship takes place this weekend at the Jeddah Street Circuit in Saudi Arabia.
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