Jenson Button will come out of retirement for "one race only" to replace Fernando Alonso for McLaren at next month's Monaco Grand Prix, the Formula One team announced today.
Fernando Alonso to race for McLaren in Indiana
Alonso has been granted permission to miss the race to compete instead for McLaren at the Indianapolis 500, with both races taking place on the same day - May 28th.
"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 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 cited last year's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the last race of his career, will be one of McLaren's two drivers at Monaco, with Belgium's Stoffel Vandoorne in their other car.
Button, McLaren ambassador
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. He won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2009 -- the same year he took the world title.
"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," he said. "I've won the race before, in 2009, and it's one of my all-time favourite racetracks. 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."
Button in training for Monaco return
Button insisted it would not take him long to get used to the feeling of being in the cockpit of a Formula One car once again. "I'll drive the McLaren around Monaco in the simulator 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. And it'll be nice to say 'Hi' to all my old Formula One mates, too, and hopefully to give the fans something to cheer about."
When McLaren announced on Wednesday that 2005 and 2006 world champion Alonso would miss Monaco to race in Indiana, the Spaniard explained that it was because he wanted to emulate Graham Hill by becoming only the second driver to win the 'Triple Crown' of the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
But the Indy 500 may have looked even more tempting given McLaren are currently last in the Formula One constructors' world championship after two races without a point.