Jenson Button had a choice between quaffing champagne and entertaining McLaren team sponsors or racing in Sunday’s Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. He indicated it was not a difficult decision to make.
“I was going to be here anyway, and instead of sitting around drinking champagne I can actually do what I’m supposed to do and that’s race cars for a living,” the 2009 world champion told reporters in the principality on Wednesday.
“(It’s a) very exciting position to be in — a challenge, but a good one.”
Button, who stood down as a race driver at the end of last season while retaining a role as a McLaren ‘ambassador’, is returning this weekend while Spaniard Fernando Alonso competes in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day.
There has been speculation that the Briton was not overwhelmed at the prospect, with former champions McLaren the only team yet to score a point in five races this season, but he said that was not the case.
“I asked my dogs and they said, “We can do without you for a week or so,” joked Button. “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 driver who doesn’t want to drive.”
Button has yet to drive the wider 2017 cars but he expected to be fine on an unforgiving and twisty metal-ringed track. Of more concern was the state of his neck muscles after a six-month absence from the cockpit, although he has kept fit competing in triathlon.
“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,” he said.
The 37-year-old added that it was a special feeling walking back into the paddock but his new life in California far from Formula One was also “pretty cool”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in one place rather than travelling around the world and flying three times a week and I’m in a very lucky position where I can do that,” he said.
“To be fair, I’ve been busier than ever because I’ve been training really hard for my passion, which is triathlons. I’m flat out with training, and picking up dog poop. So it’s been busy.”