Jenson Button continues to insist that he is a viable F1 world championship contender, and is determined to take a third victory of the year at Monza to underline the point.

The Briton recorded his first front row start of the season in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, reinforcing his decision to run McLaren's F-duct along with a higher downforce package that usually seen at Monza. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who currently leads Button by 35 points in the overall standings, opted for low drag settings and ditched the F-duct, but could only manage fifth on the grid after a scrappy qualifying lap, and Button is determined to take advantage of his countryman's misfortune.

"[A good result] is very important," he insisted, "I have got the [world championship] trophy at home and I want it to stay there, so tomorrow's race is very important.

"It is just like any other race of the season. [The title battle] turned around very quickly in Spa for Fernando [Alonso], myself and Sebastian [Vettel] - we were title contenders in a lot of journalists' eyes and then, after one race, we are suddenly not.

"I think it can still all turn around very quickly. There are five or six guys fighting for this world championship and I don't think it is slipping away from anyone at the moment. That's great for F1. I think it is a very exciting year and I think we are going to put on a great show here as well."

Button ended the day just over a tenth shy of polewinner Alonso, admitting that the slightest mistake could have been the difference between positions around the fast Monza layout, but he insisted that he was happy with his decision to run the higher downforce package

"Qualifying was pretty good for me, and I was close to the front in every session," he reported, "In Q3, you know you have just got to push that little bit more, but it is very, very tricky around here. You push a little bit and sometimes you go slower, [sometimes] you go over the astroturf on the exit or hit a kerb too hard, so it is very, very tricky. Out of Ascari, I got a little bit of oversteer and ran wide off the circuit.

"But, still, I am very happy to be second. This is the first time I have been on the front row of the grid this season, so it is a step forward. I have been very happy with the car's performance and the approach we have had this weekend, so a good start. I want to say a big thank you to the team. We came here not quite sure which approach to take in terms of downforce and efficiency, but I think our side definitely made the right decision to run the high downforce level with the F-duct.

"It is different to running low downforce, as you have got to make the time up in the corners whereas, with low downforce, most of the time comes in the straight and you obviously have to tip-toe through the corners. But, when you have high downforce, you have got to be aggressive and you have really got to push the car. I feel it worked in qualifying. We were not 100 per cent sure it was going to but, for the race, I think we are looking good.

"Our biggest issue was running the soft tyre, wondering if we could get it to work in qualifying, but we made some tweaks to the car and it's improved it a lot. [Friday was] one of those days where you end up looking for things to change, and then having to take a step back and think 'well, do we actually need to change the car that much?'. We did make small tweaks and that was the benefit, I think."

Asked whether he felt that Hamilton had made a mistake in not following his direction on set-up, Button pointed to the data which showed the two drivers posting remarkably similar sector times, and suggested that it was just a matter of personal preference.

"In P1, we both ran with the higher downforce package, because it's a package that we thought would be quicker, [although] you've obviously got the worry of the straight-line speed," he revealed, "I think we were both reasonably happy with the package in P1, but Lewis decided he wanted to try the lower downforce and that's the package he preferred. We ended up running today with very different cars, which is quite surprising, but that's just the way we like the car, I suppose.

"For me, this was the best option. I don't know what Lewis thinks about the lower downforce now but, before qualifying, he was happy with it. We've been running lap times [that] have been very similar and, strangely enough, even though there is a difference in downforce levels and a difference in the set-up of the car, our sectors have been very similar, so I'm a little surprised that his lap time was that far behind because he's been very competitive all weekend.

"I don't think it's just a case of using the F-duct or not using the F-duct. It's aerodynamic level or downforce level that differs from the others. These guys have got very good straight-line speed just like Lewis has. He didn't find the effect of an F-duct big enough with low downforce wing to actually warrant running with it this weekend, so for us, having the weight lower, not having the F-duct system on the car was the better option and I think, for the low downforce package that we have, it was correct. Obviously I'm running a different setting, as you can tell from the rear wing, and the F-duct has a lot more effect with a heavier drag wing."

Knowing that he needs a good result to make up for his misfortune at Spa - where title rival Vettel took him out of the race - Button admitted that he hadn't expected to be battling Alonso for pole, but remained focused on clawing back the points he lost to both Hamilton and Red Bull's Mark Webber in Belgium

"Our main aim is to win the race, but it is very difficult at the front at the moment," he conceded, "It is very competitive, but [winning] has to be the aim. A podium would be great, but we have to go for the victory.

"I personally didn't expect the Ferraris to be as quick as they are - they've obviously come with a very good package and [Alonso and Felipe Massa] have done a good job, but Lewis and myself have both been quick all weekend...."