As Lewis Hamilton faces reality of life without a dominant car for the first time in almost a decade, his former teammate Jenson Button thinks the Mercedes driver may be looking for a way out… but then maybe not.

Mercedes’s troubles this year are well told. While their package appears to be getting better since Barcelona’s big upgrades, they are still lacking on Ferrari and Red Bull, with Hamilton suffering more than newly promoted George Russell who spent two years in well below par cars, while Hamilton ruled.

But this year, with the new cars and Russell as a teammate, Hamilton’s motivation is increasingly being questioned and posed to Button during his guest appearance on Virgin Radio’s The Chris Evans Show.

“The big shift for Lewis is that he’s driving a car that isn’t competitive in his world,” said, 2009 F1 World Champion, Button during the interview.

“He’s been fighting for the world championship since 2014 and his teammate has come, young upstart George Russell, and he’s been competitive.

“Because George is driving a car that’s actually better than he was used to, it’s given him confidence and he can push a bit harder, whereas Lewis has probably not got so much confidence in the car to be able to extract the maximum out of it,” explained Button, a veteran of 306 Grand Prix starts.

Button: When you’ve had a few bad races, it hurts mentally

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button

Indeed Russell has been stellar, finishing in the top five in every race this season, ahead of Round 8 this weekend in Baku. Last year at the street circuit, Hamilton all but threw away victory when he messed up with the “buttons” on his wheel at the restart of the race.

This year Hamilton’s 24-year-old teammate Russell is the only driver to finish in the top five in every single race this season. Most recently, in Monaco, the younger driver was fifth; Hamilton eighth.

Button continued: “When you’ve had a few bad races, it hurts mentally. This is a mental sport, it’s not just physical. Lewis, as we all know, is one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world at driving a Formula 1 car.

“He will be competitive again if he wants to be. That’s the thing: maybe he thinks his career is over and he wants to go and do something else. Who knows?

“But Lewis, if he has a car that’s good enough to win, he will win races,” predicted Button, who was Hamilton’s teammate from 2010 to 2012 at McLaren.

Ahead of this weekend’s 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Russell lies fourth in the F1 drivers’ championship standings on 84 points, 30 more than Hamilton in sixth; George is 42 points down on leader Max Verstappen.