Returning Jenson Button will start last at Monaco GP
McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain, left and McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium walk next to each othee ahead of the final practice during the Formula One Grand Prix at the Monaco racetrack in Monaco, Saturday, May 27, 2017. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
MONACO (AP) — Jenson Button's one-off return to Formula One at the Monaco Grand Prix is proving problematic.
Even though the veteran British driver qualified in ninth place on Saturday, he will start Sunday's race from last after his struggling McLaren team was forced to make an unscheduled change to the car's power unit and incurred a 15-place grid penalty.
"It doesn't matter how many races you've done or not, it still hurts," said Button, who has competed in more than 300 and won the 2009 title.
It is set to be another frustrating race for McLaren, which is struggling with Honda engines as it did throughout most of last year.
Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne has already been penalized three places in Monaco, for causing a collision with Williams driver Felipe Massa two weeks ago at the Spanish GP. The Belgian driver looked reasonably good in qualifying and was 10th. before a late crash at the end of the second section of qualifying — known as Q2 — meant he failed to get a chance to compete in Q3 and fight for a higher grid position.
"We would have both started in the points, so it's a shame," Button said. "Stoffel will start 12th because he gains my position and I'll start last."
Fernando Alonso may have picked the perfect weekend to be away.
The two-time F1 champion has been given permission to skip Monaco so he can race at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Button, who retired from F1 last year, was drafted in to replace Alonso just for this race.
McLaren is the only team not to score a point after five races this season.
Button insisted that he will not be tempted out of retirement again.
"It's my last qualifying session," he said. "I was told to have fun and enjoy it and I definitely have. Not just driving the car, but the whole F1 atmosphere."