With Mark Webber exiting on lap one and team-mate Sebastian Vettel only lucking into a single point with Lewis Hamilton's last-lap accident, the Italian Grand Prix all but closed the door on Red Bull Racing's title ambitions - but neither of the remaining contenders was complaining.

Indeed, points leader Jenson Button and chief rival Rubens Barrichello appeared to relish the news that they were now effectively only battling each other for the crown, despite being Brawn GP team-mates, and insisted that their close relationship would not suffer as a consequence.

"I've put on a brave face lately, but I absolutely hate this guy!" Button joked after finishing second to Barrichello at Monza, "He doesn't know his a**e from his elbow when it comes to racing cars! Is this more fun or...?

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"We've got a good relationship and we've been team-mates for many years now. We're working together, we've had to pull our car to the front, so we will see how it goes from here, but I think we're still going to be sharing information because there's always the possibility that the Red Bulls will be strong and we might have some bad luck.

"When we go on the circuit, we're obviously fierce rivals, and we're not going to give up until the end. I've obviously got the advantage of 14 points, but it's got smaller at the last couple of races, and Rubens is going to be a very tough rival, for sure. He's skilled behind the wheel, as we've seen for many years, and he's been able to show his talent. so it's going to be a tough few races, but it's an exciting challenge.

"I don't know if easier is the right word, but concentrating on one person is... it has to be a little bit easier than three. You never know where the Red Bulls are going to be quick and where they are going to be uncompetitive - I thought they would be a lot more competitive here - but, with Rubens driving the same car, I've got to stay as close to him as possible. That's the way you should look at it - but I want to win races too. I don't want to come here and just try and finish behind Rubens."

With four races remaining, and the field more unpredictable than ever, Barrichello knows that nothing more than scoring four points more than his team-mate at every round will suffice if he is to finally achieve his ultimate goal. However, he insists that he is not about to hide vital information from his rival.

"I can do nothing more than I'm doing right now - pushing to the limit, taking everything you can, feeling good, feeling happy with the challenge and just going for it," the Brazilian insisted, "Experience does help but, as I've already said, if you have experience and no speed, it means nothing. If you have speed, experience comes and it feels good. I don't think I have to do anything else. We are very competitive, both of us, and we just have to go for it.

"If it is between us two, there's that old saying that you can only win in F1 if you're tough. We're both nice guys, so this is the end of it! I think the best thing in life is respect. Obviously, when we're finding that the softer spring or the harder spring is the better thing for the car, you go to the other side of the garage and tell them that's what you have found. But it's an open book there - we have our meetings and we both go through the check list at the same time, live, so we both can hear. At the end of the day, the cars get very similar, but that's fine, that's how it is."

The 1-2 result at Monza, and Button's second place in particular, will also help to silence a few of the critics, according to the Briton, who's mental toughness had been questioned during what appeared to be a mid-season slump since winning six of the first seven races.

"It's nice to get this result today, as I think we've shown that the Brawn car is [still] good," Button claimed, "A few people were questioning us a couple of races ago, but we've put a lot of effort into improving this car and it works at this downforce level, which is great. I think, when we go to Singapore, we should have a strong car there as well.

"The talk of pressure never came out of my mouth. I know I'm in a very good situation, I'm driving the best car on the grid at the moment, and I've probably got one of the most competitive team-mates on the grid at the moment too. So there are lots of positives and a couple of negatives there, but why shouldn't I be positive?

"I've got a 14-point lead with four races to go. That's it really. I have controlled the pressure that I've had for the last two or three races and I would say that it's more than likely between us two - but you can never count the Red Bulls out."