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Formula One

Button Replaces Alonso For Monaco Grand Prix

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No further debate will be needed on the identity of McLaren’s driver for the Monaco Grand Prix after they announced their choice.

Its reserve driver Jenson Button will return to Formula 1 replacing Fernando Alonso while he races for McLaren-Honda-Andretti at the 101st Indianapolis 500. It is Button’s first event since retiring from the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix alongside Stoffel Vandoorne.

Button is an experienced choice for the team, scoring points in every Monaco race he has finished since 2008 and only suffering DNFs in 2010 and 2012. His best result came with a win for Brawn GP in 2009 before a third-place finish for his current team in 2011.

The race will see him move ahead of Michael Schumacher in the list of all-time F1 entries, the 309th of his career, and it is set to be his 306th start, equalling Schumacher’s total. Button’s former Honda and Brawn teammate Rubens Barrichello remains top of these charts (326 starts, 322 entries).

This event is set to include three British drivers (Button, Lewis Hamilton and Jolyon Palmer), which would be the highest representation for one country on the grid in 2017, tying with Germany (Nico Hulkenberg, Pascal Wehrlein and Sebastian Vettel).

Button says that Monaco is the best location to make a shock comeback, both for himself and the team. McLaren has failed to score points in just one of the last 12 races in the country when Hamilton finished 12th, and Heikki Kovalainen did not finish in 2009.

“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,” he said.  “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 we’ll have an 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 before, and I reckon I’ll be ready for the race after doing that. 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.”

Racing director Eric Boullier believes Button will be able to help the team deliver on track.

“Jenson is a class act,” he said. “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. 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. It also reflects the technical versatility of McLaren and Honda. And it underlines the fact that we’re racers, above everything else.”

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Cameron Paterson

Cameron Paterson has been a watcher of Formula 1 since 2007, a casual television watch evolved to watching and reading anything related to something with wheels and an engine. A fan of writing, it was a no-brainer about what to do to try and get into motorsport, consistently discussing things about this great sport since 2016.