Jenson Button is confident that former teammate Lewis Hamilton will continue to race in Formula 1 this year, despite ongoing uncertainty about the Mercedes driver's future.

Hamilton has not said anything in public since the controversial F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, where the FIA’s handling of a safety car restart opened the door for his rival Max Verstappen to grab the drivers’ crown.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has spoken of Hamilton being disillusioned with F1 in the wake of those events, while FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem has acknowledged that the seven-time champion felt ‘broken’.

But while questions about whether or not Hamilton will return to F1 continue to be raised, former title winner Button is optimistic that his former McLaren partner will come back as he set sights on his eighth crown.

Speaking in an appearance on British television show Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, Button said: “I really do hope he'll be racing.

“I think he will be racing and he wants to win that eighth title to be the most decorated Formula 1 driver in F1 history. And he will do that. I really do think so.”

Jenson Button at Jurassic X-Prix 2021

Button is not the only leading F1 figure to believe that Hamilton will be on the starting grid when the new season begins in Bahrain.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown said earlier this month: “I think he'll be back.

“He's a racing driver. I think he's at the top of his game. Sure, he's very angry. But I think race car drivers want to race, and I think he's a fighter.

“I think he will want to come back and try to win an eighth championship. I don't think he's ready to retire.

“These are my own personal opinions on that, because once you hang it [the helmet] up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don't think he's ready to hang it up. And I don't think he's going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

While the events of Abu Dhabi have damaged F1’s credibility and image, Button still thinks the sport is in a strong place right now.

“Controversial end to the season, but I think you've got to look at the season as a whole,” he explained.

“F1 is in an amazing place, two fantastic drivers going at it every weekend. And I think everyone's excited about the new season. New regulations, and it's all about the development of these cars through the year.”

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