Jenson Button shows no sign of making life easy for McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton, after the pair qualified on the front row for this weekend's Italian Grand prix at Monza.
With Mercedes power appearing to have the upper hand at the fast Italian circuit, it was no surprise to see an all-silver front row after Fernando Alonso hit problems in his Ferrari, but any thoughts that Button may cede to his team-mate's stronger title ambitions were dismissed at the post-qualifying press conference. There was much talk before last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix about whether Button was prepared to play second fiddle to Hamilton's late-season push but, when the 2008 champion was caught up in the first corner accident, Button's victory lifted him to within 16 points of his fellow Briton, and still within touching distance of the title itself.
"You can't plan turn one," Button said of the start at Monza, "It doesn't matter who is next to you, it's always an interesting first corner, especially here. It's a reasonably long drag down to turn one, [and] I think we all love a good fight, a challenge.
"Sometimes you think 'damn, sometimes I wish I didn't have such a competitive team-mate' but, a lot of the time, it's good because it pushes you and you can see where you are in terms of your performance in a race weekend. There are positives and negatives, but I think there are more positives than negatives.
"For us both to be on the front row, is fantastic for the team. I think the last few races have really shown our strength and qualifying both of us on the front row is great – I don't know if any other team has been able to do that this year. We'll start thinking about tomorrow in a little while but, even being on the front row, it is not going to be an easy race."
Button's Belgian Grand Prix win underlined McLaren's return to form after a mid-season slump, particularly on his side of the garage, and the Briton heads to Monza in good mood, especially having finished second there in each of the past three seasons.
"I started the weekend pretty happy with the car, [but] we tried a couple of things on Friday which I don't really think worked out for us," he reflected after being asked to quantify his front row start, "We were struggling a little bit on Friday afternoon but, today, the car has been much better, although, in qualifying, because of the heat – it was much hotter than this morning – the car was moving around a lot more."
With Ferrari clearly trying to arrange a tow for its two drivers - a ploy subsequently scuppered by suspected rear rollbar failure on Alonso's machine - Button was asked whether McLaren had considered a similar tactic to boost their pace. While revealing that the two drivers had decided to do their own thing during the session, he did admit that he had benefited from being pulled along by one of his bigger rivals....
"This place really reminds me of karting, because it's all about keeping the minimum speed up, especially through Ascari and Parabolica, so you're always listening to the engine revs through the apex and you know if you're quick or not," he explained, "Personally, I feel it's very difficult to plan something like [a tow] - it's difficult to get it right. You concentrate too much on it, and you can get your braking point wrong or something. It's a tricky one. The way that we did it was much better, just finding traffic on the circuit, and it worked reasonably well.
"It's a really interesting place to drive. In Q3, I realised how much difference a tow makes. In practice, we were getting tows, but it was difficult to work out if it was actually quicker or not. However, in Q3 it was, and I was able to get a reasonable one off [Sebastian] Vettel, which surprisingly made a good difference...."
For the record, Hamilton also admitted that the best approach to turn was to 'just race it'....