Monaco Grand Prix – Jenson Button returns to Formula 1 with McLaren this weekend, and the former F1 Champion says that he got permission from both his pets and his girlfriend to make his return.
Button opted to take a sabbatical following the 2016 season, having race for 17 consecutive seasons in the sport. With McLaren’s competitive prospects remaining poor for 2017, Button had enough of unreliability and poor performance, choosing to hand over his seat to former GP2 Champion Stoffel Vandoorne.
However, with Fernando Alonso choosing to enter the Indy 500 this weekend, McLaren required a stand-in, and opted for their former driver, who remains under contract with the team. Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, Button was obviously happy to be back. He says fitness is a potential stumbling block, but not one he’s hugely concerned about: “Really excited but obviously the preparation could have been better if I had the opportunity to test the car in a proper test, but that’s not the way Formula One works. You’ve got to be ready. I think fitness-wise that’s not an issue. I’m sure the neck is going to be a bit sore after Thursday, even around Monaco. But we’ve got Friday off, so a little bit of rest. Mikey Muscles is back for a one-off race, my physio as well, so he’s going to be rubbing me once again. So it’s an exciting challenge and that’s what it’s all about isn’t it and that’s what we’re here for and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m flat out with training, and picking up dog poop, so it’s been busy, yeah.”
Explaining how he reached the decision to make his comeback, he said he first had to chat with his pets about it:
“I asked my dogs and they said “we can do without you for a week or so”. My girlfriend said “you gotta do what you do” and I said yes, and it was my decision. I could have said no if I wanted to, as we all can – no one wants a racing drive who doesn’t want to drive.”
Button has not driven the new spec 2017 car, and doesn’t have any experience of driving one of the cars under the new technical regulations. While he has had simulator time, he admits that it’s ‘not perfect’ that the first time he drives the car is at a Grand Prix: “The preparation has been good; apart from [the fact that] I haven’t obviously driven the car. These new regulations… so it’s not perfect. The option was to do half a day in Bahrain, which I though was absolutely useless for me to do, a completely different type of circuit. I said to the team, I think it’s best if I do a few days in the simulator. Obviously as drivers we love the simulator, so I was raring to go. I spent a lot of time in the simulator getting a feel for it. Yeah, it’s been interesting. You know, most of the stuff is the same, but there are a few things that are obviously different, with the difference in regulations, and there are always… it just changes year to year with new technology and what have you. A few things to learn but it’s still a racing car, just got to get used to it being a bit wider.”