Jenson Button believes he is ready for his return to Formula One as he prepares for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The 2009 world champion, who last competed in November 2016, will replace Fernando Alonso at McLaren for Sunday’s race, with the Spaniard absent due to his involvement in the Indianapolis 500.
Button admits it is strange to be driving again but he is eagerly anticipating being out on the street circuit in the principality.
The 37-year-old said: “It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit.”
“When the call came there was no hesitation – it’s a totally unique situation and a great opportunity.”
“Although I haven’t turned a wheel on track yet in the MCL32, I feel well prepared.”
“I’m looking forward to working with the team again and, as I’ll be on the other side of the garage this time around, I’ll do my best to look after the car for Fernando.”
This weekend’s race will be Button’s 17th Monaco Grand Prix.
He took the chequered flag during his 2009 championship-winning season and also achieved podium finishes in 2004 and 2011.
The Northamptonshire circuit’s executive director Stuart Pringle has raised issues with the costs involved in hosting the race weekend and is unsure whether Silverstone can continue after the current contract expires.
Pringle told the Guardian: “I sincerely hope it won’t be the end of grand prix racing at Silverstone but we’ve made clear to the Formula One management we can’t live with the present contract beyond 2019.”
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton’s success has attracted record crowds at Silverstone in recent years.
But the demands of the hosting fee, which goes up by five per cent every year – from £12million in 2010, to £17m this year and £26m in 2026 – has placed a heavy burden on the circuit’s owners.
New owners Liberty Media hope to put plans in place to attract more fans to the sport, but Pringle stressed this was not a current issue at Silverstone.
“We are pretty much a full house and we are charging pretty much a full price and we still can’t make the sums add up,” Pringle added.
“Liberty have got some great ideas and we support their plans for a better show and fan experience. But they will likely take years to produce a significant benefit to the circuits and we haven’t got the luxury of time. We need to deal in certainties and not possibilities.”
Earlier this year, former F1 world champion Damon Hill, who was president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) in 2009 when it signed a 17-year deal to keep the race at Silverstone, called on the UK Government to back the event financially or risk losing one of the country’s best ”shop windows”.
In January he told Press Association Sport: ”This is a much-loved national event but, for whatever reason, it has always been very difficult to get additional funding from government.
”Maybe now is the time to look at the British Grand Prix in the context of what is happening elsewhere and realise that it is an extremely good shop window for waving our banner and pointing to our brilliance in this field.
”When you think about post-Brexit Britain, you must wonder if this is exactly the type of thing we need to invest in to show off what we can do.”
In an interview with CNN’s ‘The Circuit’, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen spoke with host Amanda Davies about the Dutch teenager’s career so far, his future at Red Bull and his chances of claiming a second race win this season.
A year on from transferring to Red Bull and claiming a debut victory at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2016, Verstappen outlines his future plans ahead of the 2018 season – where many race seats are expected to change hands.
“The team is really nice and I have a good feeling with them, but I also want to win at one point. For the moment, I have a contract, they also gave me the opportunity to get into Formula One, so there’s also a bit of a loyal side to it,” said Verstappen.
Asked if loyalty is a common theme in F1, the Dutchman said: “It’s not normal, but it’s nice if you can give it to someone.”
Known for his aggressive racing style since making his debut for Toro Rosso in 2015, Verstappen explains how he developed his technique and defended himself from previous criticisms by drivers.
“Everybody can have his own opinion but this is just the way I am, that’s how I raced my whole life (and) that’s what brought me here,” he said on The Circuit.
“I don’t think there is any reason to change that. Of course you learn from certain moments, and you always get more and more experience – so maybe in the future you’d do some different things, but in general the basics always stay the same.”