Jenson Button has welcomed Ferrari and Red Bull’s performances in Singapore, saying it’s good to see Mercedes so far off the pace.
Mercedes have dominated Formula 1 the past two seasons and they were looking for a record-equalling 24th consecutive pole position on Saturday while Lewis Hamilton was hunting his eighth pole in a row that would have seen him match Ayrton Senna’s mark.
However, the Brackley-based squad were off the pace during FP2 and FP3 and their struggles were confirmed during qualifying with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel taking pole ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.
Hamilton was the first Mercedes driver in fifth, but he was 1.4s off Vettel’s pole time while Nico Rosberg was 1.5s down in sixth place, something which Button feels i good for the sport.
“It’s great, this is exactly what the sport needs,” he told Sky Sports. “This weekend is very important for Formula One. You can’t take it away from Mercedes, they’ve done an amazing job, and nobody else has done a good enough job this year.
“This race, to see them 1.3s off, is good for the sport, and actually it’s probably good for Mercedes as well because they see competition and it adds a bit of spice to it.”
Mercedes have struggled with their tyres all weekend and Button believes the status quo will return at next week’s Japanese GP.
“This is great, and hopefully it will continue, but I’m a little bit unsure – when we get to Suzuka it’ll go back to Mercedes being a second quicker than everyone,” he said.
“We’ll enjoy it while it lasts and I’ll be watching it on the screens while I’m going round in the middle of the pack.”