After Fernando Alonso shocked the F1 paddock by announcing he would miss this years Monaco grand prix to race at the Indy 500, rumours started spreading about who would take the Spaniards place. Although many believed that Mclaren’s reserve driver Jenson Button would step back into the cockpit.
And Mclaren have now confirmed Button will take Alonso’s place.
The 2009 world champion announced at the Italian gran prix last year that he was taking a sabbatical to let Stoffel Vandoorne take his seat this year, however he is still under contract with Mclaren until the end of 2018 with the possibility to return to full seat next year.
This will be Buttons first experience of the new high down force cars and he may go into Monaco having not driven the car at all, given Mclaren have also announced that Vandoorne and Oliver Turvey will drive in next weeks test in Bahrain.
Button said: “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 a opportunity to score world championship points, which will be very valuable to the team in terms of constructors’ rankings.”
“I’ll drive the MCL32 around Monaco in the McLaren sim 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.”
When Monaco comes around Button will match Michael Schumacher for total F1 starts at 306, second only to Rubens Barrichello with 322.
“I was truly delighted when Jenson accepted our suggestion that he race at Monaco instead of Fernando, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone at McLaren-Honda, and all our sponsor-partners and fans too, when I say that it’s great news for Jenson, for McLaren, for Honda, for our sponsor-partners, for Monaco, and for the sport of Formula 1.” Said Eric Boullier (Mclaren racing director).
“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.”