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Button ‘thrilled’ to replace Alonso at Monaco GP

F1

Manama, Bahrain – Britain’s Jenson Button will stand in for Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix in May while Alonso competes in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day, McLaren announced on Friday.

“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: Monaco,” said the 2009 world champion at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Jenson Button will drive in the Monaco Grand Prix for McLaren. Photo: Matthew Childs, Action Images via Reuters

Monaco resident Button, who handed over his McLaren seat to Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne at the end of the 2016 season while remaining under contract to the team, won the showcase race in 2009 with Brawn GP.

Honda-powered McLaren has endured a tough start to the season, with no points from two races, but the slow Monaco street circuit could suit its car better and is also a track where drivers can stand out.

Button will be the most experienced driver in the race as he makes his 306th start; he's third in the all-time lists behind the retired Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.

He is also the last driver to win a race for McLaren, in Brazil in 2012, but cannot hope for such success this time.

"It's one of my all-time favourite racetracks," said the winner of 15 Grands Prix. "OK, I realise we won't have a realistic chance of repeating my 2009 victory, but I think we'll have an 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."

McLaren announced earlier in the week that former double world champion Alonso would compete at Indianapolis with a car run by Andretti Autosport, last year's winners.

The team made no mention of any testing before Monaco but Button said he would use McLaren's simulator and had no fitness concerns. Button has been spending time in California, competing in triathlons and was recently disqualified for speeding during an Ironman 70.3 event.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said Button's return was great news.

"Jenson is a class act. 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," Boullier said. "He's always been good at Monaco. He'll do a great job for us, I'm sure of that."

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