Button backed to hit the ground running in Monaco

Britain's Jenson Button will come out of retirement for "one race only" to replace Fernando Alonso in a McLaren at next month's Monaco Grand Prix, the Formula One team announced today.

"I'm looking forward to pitting myself against the unique racing challenge that is the Monaco Grand Prix", he said.

Button, who turned 37 earlier this year, had announced a sabbatical at the end of 2016, his McLaren race seat taken by Stoffel Vandoorne.

With a contract in place that says that he will stand in should a driver be unable to race, Button himself added to the frenzy by tweeting, "Why do I have so many missed calls?"

Honda-powered McLaren have endured a tough start to the season, with no points from two races, but Monaco's tricky street circuit could suit their auto better and is also one where drivers can make the difference.

It has been confirmed that the 2009 title victor will compete for McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix, deputising for two time champion Fernando Alonso, who will miss the iconic race while he takes part in the Indianapolis 500.

The only driver ever to have won the triple crown was the late Graham Hill, the British driver, who was active from the late 1950's to the mid-1970s and like Alonso, twice won the F1 drivers' title.

This decision is seen as a surprise in the Formula One world as it undermines the assumption that F1 is the most elite level racing sport on the globe, and further, as it clashes with the biggest date on the race calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix.

"After all, he's missed only a handful of grands prix since his last outing in Abu Dhabi in late November past year, and he's as fit as a fiddle". 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", he said.

The move comes as current McLaren CEO looks to expand the team's brand, casting a wider net over the racing world as a move into the American market could represent a new era in racing driving.

Button was also optimistic about his chances of getting a better drive out of the struggling McLaren auto than has been the case so far.

Button will drive for McLaren at Monaco to substitute for Fernando Alonso, who will be taking part in the Indy 500 the same weekend.

The Formula One season continues with Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

  • Julie Sanders