It was confirmed today that Jenson Button would return to Formula 1 for the Monaco Grand Prix to replace Fernando Alonso, who will be skipping the event to compete at the Indy 500.
Today’s news served to confirm what everyone in the paddock expected, that Button would honour the contract he signed with McLaren towards the back end of 2016 that committed him to replace either of the 2017 race drivers if they are not able to take part in a Grand Prix.
“I’m thrilled to be making a one-off return,” said the 2009 champion, “I couldn't think of a better place to make that return than my adopted home grand prix – Monaco […] 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.”
Button’s return has been cheered around the paddock, with former team mate Lewis Hamilton believing that JB’s return is good for the sport, and that he thinks Button’s “calibre is still higher than any driver that could take that spot (for Monaco)," when asked about this topic in yesterday’s press conference.
Spirits are also high within the team, with team principle Eric Boullier confident that Button will not have lost any of his competitiveness since he ‘retired’ from the sport at the end of last season. “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.”
Here’s hoping McLaren have recovered sufficiently by then to give Jenson a good showing at his ‘adopted home grand prix’.