Button on F1 2018 return: ‘I can’t rule it out’

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Jenson Button says he cannot rule out a full-time return to Formula 1 in 2018 given his contract with McLaren, but is treating his appearance in Monaco next weekend as a one-off.

Button stepped away from his McLaren seat at the end of 2016 and signed a two-year deal with the team to serve as its reserve driver and ambassador.

The Briton was content with his decision to quit full-time F1 racing after 17 seasons and expected last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to be his final appearance, only to be drafted in for Monaco following Fernando Alonso’s decision to race in the Indianapolis 500.

Button has an option in his McLaren contract to return to F1 full-time in 2018 should both he and the team be willing, and the 2009 world champion admitted he could not rule it out.

“I can’t rule it out. I have a contract with the team to race next year so I would definitely not rule anything out,” Button told Press Association.

“It is pretty mad really that I am getting back in a Formula 1 car, but there are no negative thoughts going through my head. It will be nice to get a good result, but I don’t know what is going to happen.

“I don’t have anything to gain, but I don’t have anything to lose either. I am there to help the team out and have some fun and it will probably be one of the most fun grands prix for me because there is no pressure. It is a one-off so I am really excited about the challenge.

“I am thinking of Monaco as my only race this year. Obviously if I am asked again at another point in the year I am here to fill that seat.

“But I am not going to go out of my way to ask to drive because the whole idea was not to.”

Button also revealed that he had options to race for a rival team in 2017, but was determined to take a step back from full-time commitments on-track.

“I had so many options to race this year it is hilarious,” Button said.

“That even went into this year with two different teams asking me to race.

“I have no interest in doing that.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III