Jenson Button insists he feels "well prepared" for his one-off return to the McLaren cockpit at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, a situation he admits "feels slightly surreal".
Button stepped away from full-time racing duty at the end of 2016, accepting a reserve driver and ambassadorial role with McLaren. But his sabbatical lasted just five races as McLaren turned to the 2009 world champion to replace Fernando Alonso, who is being allowed to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to contest the Indy 500 on the same day.
Despite having no experience behind the wheel of 2017's bigger, faster cars, Button turned down the opportunity to test the car at the Bahrain tests last month. That led to suggestions he is not taking the return seriously -- with former Red Bull driver Mark Webber calling the event a "non-story".
However, Button has been keeping in shape with regular triathlon appearances this year while regularly visiting the McLaren simulator, something he believes will help him quickly get back up to speed.
"It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit for the Monaco Grand Prix," he said. "When the call came from Eric [Boullier, McLaren racing director] there was no hesitation -- it's a totally unique situation and a great opportunity. I'm looking forward to stepping back behind the wheel for one of the most crazy, unpredictable and exciting races of the year.
"Although I haven't turned a wheel on track yet in the MCL32, I feel well prepared. I know the track well, of course, and I've done quite a bit of work in the McLaren simulator already. I'm still fit, and I've been training probably more than ever, because I've had the time to focus on my triathlon preparation and competitions. I'm looking forward to working with the team again, and, as I'll be on the other side of the garage this time around, I'll do my best to look after the car for Fernando!"
Earlier this month Button, who won the Monaco Grand Prix during his championship-winning year, revealed he turned down two offers to race full-time this season. His contract with McLaren runs through to next year and says he can return to the cockpit full-time if both parties want a return.