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Button ‘chuffed to bits’ with Monaco F1 qualifying despite grid penalty

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Jenson Button’s remarkable one-off comeback to Formula 1 in Monaco took a bittersweet turn through Saturday as he qualified ninth, only for the result to become academic thanks to a grid penalty.

While regular McLaren driver Fernando Alonso prepares for his debut in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, Button has been keeping the Spaniard’s Honda-powered MCL32 warm this weekend, seven months on from his last run-out in an F1 car.

Button impressed throughout practice, but was then able to make another step forward in qualifying to lead McLaren to its first double-Q3 finish of the year.

Button ended qualifying ninth ahead of teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, but will drop all the way to the back of the grid by virtue of a 15-place penalty following an engine issue.

“It was a lot of fun out there. Practice was fine, but in qualifying you reach a point where you really need to fine-tune the car’s performance, and that’s still a bit of a learning curve for me,” Button said.

“This year’s tires are completely different to last year’s in terms of how they work, how they fade away, how they last. It’s been tricky trying to find those last few per cent.

“But I’m happy. In my one and only race this year I qualify ninth, and start 20th! I never expected to have this opportunity, so this is a great memory for me, driving around Monaco in these monsters, such great machines.

“I’m very lucky. I’ll take that ninth position home with me at the end of the weekend – I should be chuffed to bits with that.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown starting on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool