Following the surprise announcement that Fernando Alonso is to compete in the 2017 Indy 500 and will miss the Monaco Grand Prix as a result, Jenson Button looks set to replace the Spaniard for the race weekend in Monaco.
Although McLaren’s executive director, Zak Brown, has acknowledged that Alonso’s replacement is “not in place” as of yet, there is no other obvious option other than Jenson Button.
Button, who won the World Championship in 2009, retired at the end of the 2016 Formula 1 Season, however is contracted as McLaren’s reserve driver for 2017, having the option to return to the grid full time in 2018.
Eric Boullier is ultimately responsible to decide who will replace Alonso for the race weekend and acknowledged that McLaren have a number of options lined up.
With the 2017 McLaren-Honda being largely uncompetitive and being up to 100bhp down on power when compared to the rivals, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the team’s best chances of scoring points, with the circuit not being reliant on power.
For this reason, it is vital for an experienced driver to fill in for Alonso, and with Button winning the the Monaco Grand Prix in 2009 and having 305 F1 race starts under his belt, along with 14 other wins and 50 podium finishes, he is by far the best candidate for the job.
Other choices for McLaren could include a number of drivers who are no longer on the F1 grid such as Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Nasr, who drove for Haas F1 and Sauber in 2016, but were without a drive for 2017.
McLaren junior driver, Nobuharu Matsushita, could also stand a chance of filling in for Alonso. He currently competes in the newly re branded Formula 2 Championship and drivers for ART Grand Prix having won the Sprint Race in Monaco last year.
As Button holds the contract as McLaren’s reserve driver for 2017 and as McLaren stand a chance of securing a solid points finish in Monaco, it is hard to see past Button as Alonso’s replacement for the race.