Jenson Button admits that he would have struggled to challenge Lewis Hamilton for victory in the Italian Grand Prix after a weekend where his faint hopes of securing the championship title suffered a major blow.

Button was unable to match Hamilton on race day at Monza, having lost time at the start when a poor getaway saw him drop to third behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Although he got ahead of the Brazilian, Hamilton had already managed to build a healthy advantage, leaving his fellow Briton to focus on securing second place to give the team a 1-2 finish.

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It all came to nothing however when a fuel system issue forced Button to stop and while disappointed to have missed out on a podium, he admitted there were still positives to take away from the weekend.

"I had too much wheelspin at the start, and that dropped me to third and caused me to lose a lot of time behind Felipe," he said. "But it was nice to get past him, put some clear air between us, and then start chasing down Lewis.

"I was never going to challenge him for the win, but it would have been great for the team if we could have finished first and second. But it wasn't to be.

"I don't entirely know what caused my car to stop - I'm told it was a fuel system problem that we're still investigating. The engine cut out and I had to coast to a stop. These things happen.

"But, looking for the positives, I want to offer my congratulations to the whole team. We've proven over the past few races that we're very strong in both qualifying trim and race trim. That consistency is really key, and we haven't seen that form from any team all season, so that's very encouraging indeed."

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh agreed that it was frustrating for Button to have not been able to secure his own spot on the podium.

"We should have scored a one-two finish, but Jenson was deprived of an easy second place by a fuel system problem," he said. "That's frustrating for him and frustrating for us, but the important thing is that our car is a winner. We've now won three grands prix in a row, and both our drivers are on top form."