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Button confirmed as Alonso's replacement for Monaco

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Button confirmed as Alonso's replacement for Monaco
By:
Apr 14, 2017, 9:06 AM

Jenson Button will stand in for the Indy 500-bound Fernando Alonso in the Monaco Grand Prix this year, McLaren has officially confirmed.

Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, in the press conference
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
Jenson Button, Brawn GP

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

But the 2009 champion will now get to return to the McLaren cockpit for a race, with Alonso opting to skip Monaco to contest the IndyCar series' blue-riband event.

Button won the Monaco Grand Prix back in 2009, and has two more podiums at the street circuit.

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," Button said.

“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 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 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."

Button, who is yet to drive the sport's higher-downforce and wider 2017 cars, will partner Vandoorne for a second time, having raced alongside the Belgian in the Bahrain GP last year, when the latter stood in for an injured Alonso.

However, there is a chance Button will not actually drive the car before Monaco - with McLaren announcing that Vandoorne and Oliver Turvey will drive at next week's Bahrain test.

Button said: "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."

When the lights go out for the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, Button will equal seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher on 306 starts, as second on the all-time list behind Rubens Barrichello.

Racing director Eric Boullier said: "I was truly delighted when Jenson accepted our suggestion that he race at Monaco instead of Fernando, and I know I speak on behalf of everyone at McLaren-Honda, and all our sponsor-partners and fans too, when I say that it’s great news for Jenson, for McLaren, for Honda, for our sponsor-partners, for Monaco, and for the sport of Formula 1.

“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."

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