Monaco Grand Prix – McLaren’s Jenson Button says he struggled to adjust to the increased speeds of F1 2017 in the second practice session, having driven a car for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2016. Button returns for this event, substituting for Fernando Alonso, who is taking part in the Indianapolis 500. Stepping into the MCL32 for the first time for Thursday’s practice sessions, Button was on pace with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, finishing P12 at the end of the second session.
Speaking to the media afterwards, Button says that he had great fun jumping into the car, but that he hadn’t missed the sport:
“I haven’t missed driving in Formula 1. It’s a real privilege to drive one here at Monaco, though, and today was great fun. As soon as I left the pits, everything felt very natural. The weirdest thing is when you look in your mirror at a car or let a car past, the size of it is gigantic! You feel really uncomfortable then because you think you’ll be too close to the barriers, but the car fits like a glove.”
The 2009 Champion and Monaco GP race winner eased himself into the day, initially heading out on Soft compound tyres in order to put in mileage and get a feel for the car before swapping to the faster SuperSoft and UltraSoft tyres. Despite appearing to jump straight back into things, Button admitted to struggling in FP2:
“I struggled a bit with FP2 with the extra grip, struggled to find my feet, because you have to brake so much later than I’m used to here in Monaco and carry so much more speed. I’m braking in places I’ve never braked before at Monaco! And the grip levels were the same for years, and now it’s different – it’s got a lot more grip than I’m used to. I came in after FP1 and told the engineers it didn’t feel that different to last year, but then FP2 came and it was so much faster.”
“Having that confidence is difficult, because you think you’ll lock up braking up that late, but it’ll come in time. Hopefully, with the day off and time with the engineers, I can find that confidence.”
“The objective is to keep having fun and prove myself. I’m really enjoying driving this car and the updates, hopefully we can squeeze some more out of it. I drove a rallycross car back in January, and that’s all I’ve driven since Abu Dhabi in November. I’ve done one day in a racing car completely different to an F1 car in seven months. I thought that it would feel really weird, but it doesn’t, which is nice. A lot of it will come from me figuring out the braking and gaining the confidence to brake late enough and hard enough.”