Jenson Button: Max Verstappen has to fight for 2019 F1 title

Jenson Button believes Max Verstappen has to be fighting for Formula 1’s title in 2019 in order to maintain his career momentum, else he may “start asking questions” about his future.

Verstappen stepped up to Formula 1 as the sport’s youngest driver aged 17 in 2015 and was propelled into Red Bull the following year, taking victory on his senior team debut in Spain.

Verstappen bounced back from a tricky start to enjoy his strongest campaign to date in 2018, taking two wins en route to fourth in the standings, but Red Bull has been unable to fight for his title in his three-year spell with the team.

Red Bull will this year switch to Honda power and Button, who bowed out of Formula 1 full-time at the end of 2016, reckons the Dutch youngster has to contend for overall honours

“Max will get the maximum out of the car and a little bit more,” Button, the 2009 champion, told Sky Sports News.

“In tricky conditions Max is fantastic with the car, he has a new team-mate [Pierre Gasly] who I rate very highly, he’s still very young in F1, but he’s a good kid.

“It's tricky with Max. He's always moving forward and he's always looking for something else. He jumps into a Red Bull and he wins his first race.

“This year is a really important year for him to keep it moving.

“He has to be fighting for the championship or l think he’s going to start asking questions about where he should be in the future."

Button also believes that former rival Sebastian Vettel faces an “important year” at Ferrari and must stave off the emerging threat of new team-mate and rising star Charles Leclerc.

“I think it’s a very different atmosphere for Sebastian at Ferrari to Red Bull, maybe there’s more pressure,” Button said.

“It’s going to be a big year for Sebastian. When Daniel [Ricciardo] came in to Red Bull [in 2014] he found it difficult in the first year with Daniel.

“Daniel put him under a lot of pressure and out-performed him, and if Charles can do that this year it’s a tough decision of where Sebastian is going to go for the future, and what he’s going to do.

“It’s an important year for him [Vettel], I’m sure he feels the pressure, we’ll see how he copes under the pressure.

“He’s an unbelievably skilled driver and super-fast, but if your mind isn’t in the right place, forget it. So we’ll see.

“Charles seems like such a happy-go-lucky guy and very relaxed, and I think the team is going to take to him and that sometimes can hurt the other driver.”