LONDON: 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 Friday.
Alonso, like Button a former Formula One world champion, has been allowed to miss the race to compete instead for British-based McLaren at the Indianapolis 500, with both showpiece races taking place on May 28.
“Owing to Fernando Alonso’s commitments with McLaren-Honda-Andretti over the weekend of the Indianapolis 500, which iconic race will take place on the same date (May 28th) as the Monaco Grand Prix, Jenson will take over Fernando’s McLaren-Honda MCL32 for one race only: the equally iconic Monaco Grand Prix,” said a team statement.
Button, who had regarded the concluding race of the 2016 campaign in Abu Dhabi as the last of his 17-season career, will be one of McLaren’s two drivers at Monaco, with Belgium’s Stoffel Vandoorne in their other car.
The 37-year-old Button remains under contract with McLaren, having agreed a two-year ambassadorial role with the team, but has yet to drive competitively this season.
Button, however, won the Monaco Grand Prix, the most glamorous race in Formula One in 2009 — the same year he took the world title with the now defunct Brawn team.
“I’m thrilled to be making a one-off return to Formula One racing, and I couldn’t think of a better place to make that return than my adopted home Grand Prix of Monaco,” Button said in the McLaren statement.
“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 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.
“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.”