Champagne back on ice as Button returns

<i>Image: AP / Claude Paris</i>
<i>Image: AP / Claude Paris</i>

Monte Carlo - The champagne Jenson Button would normally have been drinking this weekend will stay on ice, he said ahead of his comeback for McLaren-Honda at the 2017 Monaco GP.

"This weekend I've got the opportunity to race the car. I was going to be here anyway so instead of sitting around drinking champagne I can actually do what I'm supposed to do -- and race cars for a living," he said.

"I am in a very lucky position and, as I said, it's a very exciting position to be in. It's a challenge, but a good one."

No opportunity to test

Button, who won the world championship in 2009, made light of the difficulties he may face in driving this year's new bigger, faster cars for the first time on one of the tightest and most demanding circuits in the world.

He said: "Obviously, my preparation could have been better if I'd had the opportunity to test the car in a proper test, but that's not the way F1 works. 

"You've got to be ready. I think fitness-wise it'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 a rest. 'Mike Muscles', my physio, is back for a one-off race, too, so he's going to be rubbing me once again."

Button also relished poking a little fun at two-time champion Fernando Alsono, whose seat he is filling in the McLaren Honda team while the Spaniard races in Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

"Yes, I will watch that race," he said. "But it's not an attraction for me. I watched Fernando do his first laps and I was most interested in the way he reacted to having the media all around him, like they do there.

"I will be asking him about that when he gets back."

Button told reporters that he had no hesitation in deciding to accept McLaren's offer to race for them in Alonso's car in Monaco.

"I asked my dogs and they said we can do without you for a week or so. My girlfriend said 'you've got to do what you've got to do'," he said.

"And I said yes... It was my decision. I could've said 'no' if I wanted to, as we all can, because nobody wants a racing driver who doesn't want to drive."

Sunday's 78-lap race around the classic Mediterranean street circuit will be Button's 306th start in F1. He won in Monaco in his 2009 championship-winning year with the Brawn team.

He said he had not missed 'the paddock', but added: "It is great to be back and see so many old friends and team-mates and all the rest, but to be honest I don't miss flying three times a week and so on.

"It has been great to be in one place for a while," he said, adding that he hoped to be "reasonably competitive".

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