Button surprised by Alonso's Indy move

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I don't expect to be 0.1sec off a Mercedes in qualifying.

Formula One organisers are planning to hold a minute's silence before Monday's Monaco Grand Prix as a mark of respect for the victims of the Manchester bomb attack. I thought it was best if I do a few days in the simulator, so I was raring to go and spent a lot of time getting a feel for the auto there. It's always a challenge, a huge challenge, for any driver - but a really exciting challenge, and has always been up there in my favourite races of the year. Both he and his engineers have worked hard since the last race to better understand how he and the vehicle can work together, and I think we're starting to see the fruits of those labours. And that's two things: because the cars are better to drive and I haven't driven one for seven months. It's the old beginners thing in F1 where you brake early, you lift off early, you turn in, you accelerate early and you get understeer. "So I think this one will probably send you to the grandstand".

"To get ready for Monaco, I've spent a lot of time in the simulator at our factory, but I still have a lot to learn during the practice sessions on Thursday. "Mike Muscles", my physio, is back for a one-off race, too, so he's going to be rubbing me once again".

"He's done awesome and to be honest, to win the race, he's going to be one of the guys you're going to have to beat", the 36-year-old New Zealander said. "But it's not an attraction for me". "Actually, probably it was more the reaction to the media being right next to him every second that he was out of the vehicle. I spent a lot of time in the simulator getting a feel for it".

Alonso is by no means the first F1 driver to jump ship to the Indy 500, though in doing so the McLaren driver has caused plenty of fanfare.

Force India's Mexican driver Sergio Perez added: "I think the one we had before was big enough and if you hit it, it would send you to the wall".

"And I said yes".

"I had a little giggle to myself as I headed into Mirabeau", said the Briton after ending the first day of practice around the twisting, metal-fenced harbourside streets with the 12th fastest time.

Sunday's 78-lap race around the classic Mediterranean street circuit will be Button's 306th start in Formula One.

If you watch Formula One for the racing, however, it all gets a little droll, especially as the race weekend approaches and the TV commentators keep playing up its supposed importance, many of whom are former drivers and millionaires who will spend more money in restaurants that day than I make in a year.

"It'll be a fun weekend", said Button, talking to the BBC.

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