Mark Webber believes Jenson Button is “not very interested” in his one-off return to Formula 1 at Monaco, where the Briton will stand in for Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
Following Alonso’s decision to skip the Monaco Grand Prix to race a McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry in the Indianapolis 500, the Woking-based team called up its third driver Button to fill in for the Spaniard.
However, Button has yet to drive the MCL32, and turned down the chance to get miles under his belt during Bahrain in-season testing last month – meaning first practice at Monaco will be his very first taste of the new-for-2017 F1 rules package.
Speaking at Spa, Webber dismissed Button’s comeback as a “non-story”, highlighting the fact he chose not to take part in the Bahrain test as evidence that the 2009 champion isn’t fully committed.
“It’s a non-story, Jenson at Monaco,” said Webber. “He goes out, has fuel pressure problems in FP1, qualifies 17th, retires on lap 12 of the race. Whatever, who cares?
“Jenson didn’t do any testing in Bahrain, he doesn’t take it so seriously – ‘I want to stay in America and do my triathlon, I’m not bothered about the Bahrain test’ – which for me was a surprise.
For Jenson the first session in Monaco will be wakey-wakey. I don’t think he’s very interested.”
“I don’t think he would have been first on the phone”
“Fernando is running McLaren ”
Webber also observed that, in its present uncompetitive state, it’s Alonso who is effectively “running” McLaren – a scenario he feels will benefit the two-time champion’s teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
“I like Stoffel a lot, he’s got his head screwed on,” said Webber of Vandoorne. “He sees the big picture quite nicely for his age, he has a very good career in front of him.
“This is a good learning [process] for him in this car, with Fernando in the other garage. Fernando is running the team at the moment, he’s running McLaren.
“Fernando is colossal, mercurial. So for Stoffel, it’s good learning.”