Jenson Button and Danica Patrick on US GP 'surprise' and Mercedes' chances of hitting back in F1 2021
The US GP had a 'Mercedes track' and Red Bull won. The Mexican GP is a 'Red Bull track' - can Mercedes respond? Sky F1 pundits Jenson Button and Danica Patrick review the Austin weekend and what it means for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton's epic title battle
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 25/10/21 6:57pm
Jenson Button believes Max Verstappen and Red Bull's United States GP triumph means there could be plenty more surprises to come in the incredible F1 championship run-in, with fellow Sky Sports F1 pundit Danica Patrick also expecting a fight-back from Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.
A crucial weekend that started with Mercedes as favourites and dominating the opening practice session ended with Red Bull taking pole and the race win - their first in four races.
It has resulted in another swing in momentum in a 2021 title race that continues to deliver, with Verstappen now 12 points ahead of Hamilton while Red Bull have cut Mercedes' lead in the team standings to 23 points.
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But with five races left and still so much to play for, Button is expecting the unexpected - even when heading to what is typically a Red Bull stronghold in the Mexican GP, live on Sky Sports F1 on November 5-7.
"This is supposed to be a Mercedes track, and Red Bull won," said Button, the 2009 world champion, after the Circuit of the Americas race.
"We say that Red Bull is very strong in Mexico but then we look at the straight-line speed of the Mercedes, it's massively fast.
"I think this year has proven that we are surprised pretty much every race we go to so we really don't know who's going to be competitive at the next race, and that's why we love it."
Patrick, one of the most successful and recognisable female racers in history, also believes Mercedes won't be panicking just yet.
"True champions know how to come back," said Patrick on her Sky F1 debut. "I feel like Mercedes still had a great attitude today - both Toto [Wolff, team boss] and Lewis seemed really cool and calm and I think that's going to pay off.
"They've been around, they've accomplished a tonne and this one race isn't going to phase them with five to go."
Red Bull had quicker pace than Mercedes throughout Saturday and Sunday - even though the margin between Verstappen and Hamilton was so slender at the end as different tyre strategies brought the title rivals together.
But Mercedes, F1 champions for the past seven seasons, were indeed pragmatic after the race, hoping their deficit was track-specific and eager to return to their pre-USA form in the final five races.
"This still isn't a bad, bad race for Mercedes," Button stated. "Lewis is very calm and I think it's because he knows they did nothing wrong this weekend, they did everything right, it is what it is.
"Whereas in Turkey they obviously made mistakes, lost points, and he was quite angry on team radio."
Patrick added: "I thought Toto seemed calm, Lewis seemed calm and at the end of the day there's basically a quarter of a season left. That's a lot of season left and a lot can happen.
"At this point in time you have to look at the positives, and that's that five races left. DNFs are possible and being exceptional just as they have done in history is totally possible."