Button: Alonso now 'understands it is necessary' to be a team player

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Jenson Button believes Fernando Alonso will return to Formula 1 stronger after learning "that it's necessary" to be a team player.

In recent weeks, the double world champion has completed three tests in both the 2018 and 2020 Renault car, ahead of his comeback with the team that will be known as Alpine from next season.

Alonso's return to F1 comes after he has spent the past two years competing in several different motorsport disciplines from the Indianapolis 500, to the WEC and even the Dakar Rally.

And Button, who of course was teammates with Alonso at McLaren in 2015 and 2016, believes those experiences will have an effect on how he approaches his next challenge.

“Kimi [Raikkonen] spent a few years away and realised how good F1 is, and that’s why Fernando is going back," he said via Motorsport.com. 

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"It [the break] definitely helped him and Fernando will come back a better driver as well, I think.

“Whether he’s more skilled as a racing driver, or if it’s the way he works with the team, I think he will be very different.

“It will be interesting to see because the Fernando from four years ago or three years ago, you wouldn’t want in your team.

“But now I think he’s much more of a team player and understands that it’s necessary to succeed.”

When Button retired at the end of 2016, he also left the door open to a return to F1, making a final one-off appearance at Monaco for McLaren in 2017.

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And the 2009 world champion reflected on his own career and the thoughts of retirement which began a little earlier than some might expect.

“At the end of 2014 I said to my mates ‘I’m going to retire, I’ve had enough’ and they said ‘no, no, no, just do one more year’,” said the 40-year-old, who recently competed in the British GT event at Silverstone.

“Okay, so the end of 2015, I had a good year but I thought, ‘no, I want to get out’. They said ‘no, just one more year’.

“In 2016, halfway through the year, it was game over and that’s when I knew it was the right time because, before the end of the year, I had already decided it was too much.

“It was the right time to retire. Should I have gone back and done a year or two? Maybe," he admitted.