In one of the more unsurprising announcements of the week, McLaren-Honda has tabbed their “third” driver, former Formula One world champion, Jenson Button to replace Fernando Alonso and drive alongside Stoffel Vandoorne in the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Alonso, of course, announced earlier this week that he intended to drive in the Indianapolis 500 next month and it just so happens that the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix occur on the same day this year. That meant Button – one of last year’s drivers for McLaren – became the obvious choice to replace Alonso at Monaco.
Button will only race for McLaren at Monaco [at least that is the plan now] and Alonso will return to McLaren for the Canadian Grand Prix onwards.
Button’s comments from the official McLaren press release…
“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 favorite 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 realize 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.
“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 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. 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.”