Jenson Button says the 2023 F1 season won't necessarily be a cakewalk for Red Bull and Max Verstappen, despite the Dutchman's dominant win in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.
The 2009 World Champion also hailed the quality of on-track action at Sakhir, highlighting the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as they jostled for third position on laps 37 and 38.
"It looked like a relatively easy race, especially for Max," Button was quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
"But I have to say, forgetting who won the race, it was a great race. It was too easy for Max, but the race itself was great.
"I loved the action. To see to multiple World Champions going at it, Lewis and Fernando, it was pretty special."
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Button added that the dominant nature of Red Bull's victory may have been in part down to the unique characteristics of the Bahrain International Circuit, which also served as F1’s pre-season testing venue, and added that he expected to see closer racing as the 2023 season progresses.
"I know that a lot of drivers have said, 'well, it's going to be an easy championship for Red Bull and Max'," said Button.
"But how can you say that? We've only tested at one track, we've only raced at one track.
"And we all know that Bahrain is very unique in the way that the cars work there. It's a heavy braking, traction circuit, it's not so much about high-speed.
"I think we'll understand a bit more after Saudi, which is more of a fast-flowing track, and also when we get the European races.
"So no, it's not a walk in the park for Red Bull and Max. It's a great start to the season, and very different to what they had last year. But I still think we're going to have some very, very close fights.
"And I don't think it's going to be a straightforward win for Red Bull and Max. But I loved the first race. I thought it was action-packed and that's what I look for."
With Red Bull having cruised to a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, RacingNews365.com journalists Michael Butterworth and Dieter Rencken analyse how much we should read into their early dominance.