Sergio Perez said he enjoyed battling with Jenson Button in the Italian Grand Prix because the McLaren driver is "always clean".

Button and Perez were team-mates at McLaren last season, with the two having some close fights on numerous occasions, most notably in Bahrain. During Sunday's race, Perez was struggling with braking issues and had to get very defensive at times but having twice re-passed Button to hold on to seventh place he said the battle was a fair one.

"The race was a lot of fun," Perez said. "We were always fighting somebody and always pushing hard. It was great racing and it's good to score important points for the championship. The most important part of the race was the fight I had with Jenson, which was really nice and reminded me of the old days.

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"I know he is a driver that you can fight really hard and it's always clean. At the end of the race with Kevin [Magnussen], I knew he had a penalty and there was no need to attack him. It meant I could focus on keeping Jenson behind me, which was not easy."

Team principal Vijay Mallya described Perez's driving as "mighty" but rued Nico Hulkenberg's struggles with his car.

"Six points keeps us where we need to be in our close championship battle with just a single point separating us from fifth place," Mallya said. "Sergio was mighty today, showing once again how well he can race with some brilliant overtaking and defending.

"Nico made a great start, but he has not been completely comfortable with the car balance all weekend and especially in the race today. Despite his very strong start, points were out of reach. With six races remaining this season, I still believe we have all to play for and that we must keep pushing hard."