MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Jenson Button has labelled Formula One's 2017 regulations a success after getting his first taste of the current generation of cars this weekend in Monaco.
Button has returned from retirement for a one-off race to replace Fernando Alonso who is competing at the Indy 500 this weekend. The 2009 world champion opted not to test ahead of his return, but still qualified an impressive ninth on Saturday -- although a grid penalty for a new turbocharger and MGU-H means he will start the race from the back of the grid.
"I went a lot faster than I did last year around here and it was a lot more fun," he said.
"I must say that I was a little disappointed when I heard about the new regulations in terms the weight of the car going up [from 702kg in 2016 to 728kg in 2017]. Weight is so important in a Formula One car, but this is the toughest circuit for a heavy car, and it is very nimble around here.
"It's so much fun to drive, it really is. Formula One has definitely moved in the right direction with the regulations. I think it's very exciting for the teams also to find chunks of time and downforce, I think it's the way F1 should be."
Button says the one weakness of the current formula is the tyres, specifically the harder compounds Pirelli has produced across its range.
"I still feel that the tyres are very difficult, I mean I am pushing from the time I exit the pits for two laps I am pushing flat out to get tyre temperature to start my timed lap and I still have shuddering on the front tyres on the ultra-soft in 25 degree heat, 53 degree track. I don't get that and I don't think I am the only one that feels that way. That's an area which I think we can still improve and I am sure they will for next year.
"The positive I would say is that under braking when you get rear under rotation it doesn't just snap like it used to, like out of the tunnel. I think you never saw anyone have a big moment out of the tunnel because you can have under rotation with rear and still control it which is great whereas you couldn't in the past so in that way it's better." But Button doubts it will be possible to move through the field on Sunday now that this year's cars are 20cm wider.
"Overtaking will be very difficult. You do not realise how wide these cars are until you see one in front of you on the circuit. It's unbelievable wide. I did pass Lewis Hamilton [on Thursday], but you know, it's just how it is, it was easy! No, it's very difficult. I will be surprised if there's any overtaking tomorrow. I know it's not a good thing to say, it's not very positive, it's just Monaco."