The McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team have today confirmed that Jenson Button will replace driver Fernando Alonso at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, when the Spaniard instead heads to America to take part in the Indianapolis 500.
The 2009 world champion will partner Stoffel Vandoorne at the race in May, after retiring from the sport at the end of 2016, having completed 305 grand prix. The Brit remained contracted to the Woking based squad however in an Ambassador role, with an option to race again in 2018, should either party wish to take it up.
Button was thrilled to get the opportunity to race again so soon after hanging up his boots.
“I’m thrilled to be making a one-off return to Formula 1 racing, and I couldn’t think of a better place to make that return than my adopted home Grand Prix: Monaco.
“I’ve won the race before, in 2009, and it’s one of my all-time favourite racetracks. It’s a tricky street circuit on which a good driver can really make a difference – and, although the McLaren-Honda MCL32 hasn’t begun the season well, I think it may be more suited to Monaco than to the faster circuits that Fernando and Stoffel have raced it on so far this season.
“OK, I realise we won’t have a realistic chance of repeating my 2009 victory, but I think we’ll have an opportunity to score world championship points, which will be very valuable to the team in terms of constructors’ rankings.”
The Brit also wishes Alonso the best of luck as he takes on the super-speedway.
“As for Fernando, I hope he not only fares well at Indy but enjoys it too. It’ll be a great experience for him. He’s an excellent driver, as we all know, and he’s very experienced, so, although super-speedway driving techniques will be all-new to him, I expect him to get to grips with it all pretty quickly.
“And on Sunday evening, after the Monaco Grand Prix, I’ll sit down and watch him do his stuff on TV. I’m looking forward to that too.
“But most of all I’m looking forward to pitting myself against the unique racing challenge that is the Monaco Grand Prix. I’ll drive the MCL32 around Monaco in the McLaren simulator beforehand, and I reckon I’ll be ready for the race after doing that.
“I’m supremely fit, having done a lot of triathlon training recently, so I have no worries on that score. And it’ll be nice to say ‘hi’ to all my old Formula 1 mates too and hopefully to give the fans something to cheer about.”
It comes as no surprise that McLaren have called on the experience and skill of Button to fill in during the Spaniards time out, and McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier advised there was really no question that the Brit would step in.
“I was truly delighted when Jenson accepted our suggestion that he race at Monaco instead of Fernando.
“Jenson is a class act. He’s a superb driver – fast, smooth and precise – and he won’t have lost any of his competitive edge over the past few months.
“After all, he’s missed only a handful of grands prix since his last outing in Abu Dhabi in late November last year, and he’s as fit as a fiddle.
“Also, he’s always been good at Monaco. He’ll do a great job for us, I’m sure of that.”