Jenson Button says McLaren is unlikely to be able to challenge for a podium in the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, but following practice on Friday believes they "shouldn't be too far off that".

Button was second quickest in FP1 this morning, and while he slipped back to sixth in the second session - posting an identical time to Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull - he remained reasonably upbeat.

"Forgetting the times, the feeling of the car is reasonable. I really don't think we are in a position to challenge for a podium, but we shouldn't be too far off of that. The race pace isn't quite as good as our one lap pace, but we are working on it and hopefully we can improve upon that tomorrow," he noted.

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Asked about the day in more detail, he added: "There is work to do, but all in all it was a relatively good day. I didn't have the cleanest runs this afternoon, but this morning I did and it seems okay. It is the long runs where we are lacking compared to the other guys still. We are quicker over one lap at the moment than we are over the long runs. But it is always difficult to know on a Friday because people are obviously running different fuel loads. I am sure not everyone runs the maximum. So, I don't know.

"It is important for us though to just do on our own thing and get to the bottom of the issues we have. We are moving forward, which is good."

"It has been getting better [lately] every race, I think," he continued. "We have made a few mistakes when we have got to the race, but in terms of development of the car, it is improving. It is just very difficult to do it quickly with the regulations and the limitations and he competition that is out there. It is not an easy sport. But we are making progress."

Quizzed on if Monza is McLaren's best chance of getting a podium since Melbourne, Button replied: "I don't think so. I don't think we have got a good shot of the podium here. I think we will be alright, but I don't think a podium is an option.

"But I don't think this is our only chance of a good result [either]. I think that from here on to the end of the season we should be getting better every race. Definitely our car is better at low downforce circuits, but that is why you work on the high downforce circuits.

"We have stuff for Singapore and the following races that will help us be competitive. We hope to improve in every race until the end of the year. You have to if you want to be competitive in 2015. You can't end the year 1.5 seconds off the pace."