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Lewis Hamilton hopes Jenson Button returns to F1 for Monaco GP

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Lewis Hamilton wants to see 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button return to the sport with McLaren next month in place of the Indianapolis 500-bound Fernando Alonso for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso announced on Wednesday that he would miss F1’s crown jewel race in Monaco on May 28 so he could enter the Indy 500 with a McLaren-Honda-Andretti entry.

The news led to speculation about who would take his McLaren-Honda seat for Monaco, with Button the obvious option given his role as the team’s reserve driver.

Button raced for McLaren between 2010 and 2016, making his final appearance in Abu Dhabi last year before stepping back into a reserve role, with the Briton thought to have made his last grand prix start.

Speaking on Thursday in Bahrain, Hamilton said he hopes Button – who he raced alongside for three years at McLaren – would return for Monaco.

“I hope Jenson comes back. I think it would be good for the sport to have Jenson in it,” Hamilton said.

“I like Jenson and I think he’s still one of the best drivers. His caliber and experience is still higher than any other driver that is able to take that spot.”

McLaren said following Wednesday’s announcement that it would decide on Alonso’s replacement for Monaco in due course, with confirmation due before the end of the month.

Button is yet to speak out on the matter officially, only posting a cheeky tweet on Wednesday evening.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.