Button praised Verstappen for his ability to adapt his driving style to the car he’s given, suggesting that not all drivers can cope in the same way.
The 2009 world champion, who drove alongside Hamilton at McLaren in 2010-’12, said he would be “more fearful” going up against Verstappen.
In recent weeks, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suggested that Red Bull cars are designed around Verstappen, while Hamilton has indicated that he’s faced stronger team-mates than the Dutchman.
“I think Lewis has had some very tough team-mates, he’s had world champions as team-mates, whereas Max hasn’t,” Button told Sky Sports at the Goodwood Revival.
“But for me, I would be more fearful going up against Max in the same car. And I think it is because the car is designed around his style, or he can drive a car that Adrian Newey gives him.
“I think Adrian gives him a car and says, ‘This is the quickest car in the world. If you take away front downforce, it’s going to go slower, but it’ll be easier to drive.’
“And Max is, ‘Right, I have to drive how you’ve made this car, and I need to drive it as quick as I can.’ So I think that he’s very good at that. And I think a lot of drivers struggle to compete with that.”
Expanding on the debate sparked by Hamilton, he added: “It’s a difficult one. I think Lewis has had more difficult team-mates, but I also wouldn’t want to go up against Max.
“They’re all unbelievable drivers, the best in the world. And some of the best we’ve ever seen in F1. I wish there was more competition at the front, between Max, Lewis, Fernando [Alonso], those three for me are the ones that stand out.
“But it’s not the way in F1. It’s a technology race and Red Bull, fair play to them, they’re doing a better job right now.”
Podium: race winner Jenson Button, McLaren, second place Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Button was also asked what advice he would give current McLaren driver Lando Norris, who has been linked with a potential future as Verstappen’s team-mate at Red Bull.
“The issue is you have to be the best to be a world champion,” said Button. “And that was the whole thing for me when I left Brawn [at the end of 2009].
“I was like, ‘I have to go to McLaren because I need to race against Lewis Hamilton’, who was regarded as the best. And I think that’s what he’s got to decide he wants to do.
“I think if he’s clever, he will decide on a car that suits his style. And I think we’ve seen from a lot of drivers, the Red Bull doesn’t suit many drivers, apart from Max.
“So, it’s not an easy decision for him. He’s not in a car that can win right now. And it probably won’t next year either, I don’t think.
“He’s got to be looking elsewhere for 2025. Or he puts his trust in McLaren. They’ve won races, they’ve won championships, and it can come back around.
“So, as long as he can see the future and think that they’re in a good place as a team, and it gives him confidence, stay there. If not, go and fight Max Verstappen in his own team. But that’s a hard one.”