Jenson Button: “It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit”

by Paul Hensby

Jenson Button makes his Formula 1 race return this weekend around the streets of Monte Carlo as he steps into the seat of Fernando Alonso, who is making his debut in the Indianapolis 500.

The 2009 World Champion admitted the request from Eric Boullier to replace the Spaniard in the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team for Monaco was too good to turn down, and he is looking forward to his return.

“It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit for the Monaco Grand Prix,” admits Button. “When the call came from Eric there was no hesitation – it’s a totally unique situation and a great opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to stepping back behind the wheel for one of the most crazy, unpredictable and exciting races of the year.”

Button is a previous Monaco Grand Prix winner back in 2009, and he knows the circuit is a huge challenge, especially when it comes to setting up the car, but as one of his favourite venues on the calendar, he is excited by that challenge.

“Monaco is truly unique as a track, and requires a lot of work to fine-tune the car and optimise the set-up for the narrow layout,” said Button. “It’s always a challenge – a huge challenge, for any driver – but a really exciting challenge, and has always been up there in my favourite races of the year.”

Button has yet to experience the MCL32 on track after turning down the opportunity to run during the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, but after spending time in the simulator at the McLaren factory he feels ready for the weekend.

“Although I haven’t turned a wheel on track yet in the MCL32, I feel well prepared,” said Button. “I know the track well, of course, and I’ve done quite a bit of work in the McLaren simulator already.

“I’m still fit, and I’ve been training probably more than ever, because I’ve had the time to focus on my triathlon preparation and competitions. I’m looking forward to working with the team again, and, as I’ll be on the other side of the garage this time around, I’ll do my best to look after the car for Fernando!”

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