Button picks team who are 'most likely' to challenge Red Bull in 2024
With several teams looking to chase down Red Bull in 2024 following their dominant display last season, Jenson Button has tipped Mercedes as having the strongest chance of challenging the world champions in the upcoming campaign.
Max Verstappen clinched his third title in 2023 by a significant margin over his rivals, but the battle behind Red Bull proved increasingly close as the year progressed. While Aston Martin looked to have the second-best car on the grid in the opening stages, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren all joined the fight during the season, with the Silver Arrows ultimately claiming P2 in the constructors’ standings.
While the squad went without a race victory last year, Button expects the outfit to make a step forwards over the winter break.
When asked by Sky Sports to choose which team – from Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin – would be most likely to challenge Red Bull in 2024, the 2009 F1 world champion answered: “Mercedes. When you look at the last 10 years in the sport, it's Mercedes and Red Bull, so it would be Mercedes.
“I would love to say Ferrari, I would love to have them in the mix. You could say they were the closest competitor especially towards the end of the season, but I think Mercedes will have a good improvement [for 2024]. Whether it's enough, I don't know.”
In terms of driver line-ups, the field will remain the same as 2023 and Button believes that there are several impressive partnerships amongst Red Bull’s rivals, including the Silver Arrows duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
“There are some seriously strong driver line-ups,” he commented. “Mercedes, can't go past those two. I know Lewis, we were team mates for three years, and for George to get as close as he has to Lewis is impressive.”
Alongside this, Button anticipates another promising year for McLaren with the youthful pairing of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
“In terms of the young guns at McLaren, super strong,” he continued. “Oscar with a year under his belt, he'll have more consistency going into the 2024 season. He had glimpses of greatness [in 2023] obviously but then consistency just wasn't there, I think he ended up with less than half the points of Lando.
"But coming into a second season he's got that under his belt, I think he'll be competitive. So those two drivers will definitely push McLaren forward a bit as well.”
With the 2024 campaign set to get underway in Bahrain on February 29, the covers will soon be coming off all 10 teams’ new cars. Amongst these, Aston Martin will unveil their challenger on February 12, with Ferrari's event taking place one day later.
Mercedes and McLaren are both due to launch their cars on February 14, while Red Bull will follow suit on February 15.