World Champion Jenson Button says that he and his closest title rivals must not just rely on points leaders Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber hitting trouble if they are going to get themselves firmly back in title contention.
After the McLaren driver, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel all failed to score in Belgium two weeks ago, the pressure is on them to close the points gap in today's Italian Grand Prix or else risk seeing their title hopes effectively over for the season. Although Webber and Hamilton's fourth and fifth positions on the Monza grid have set up what could be another crucial chapter in the title battle, Button insists that the onus is still on him to do the job himself.
"There are a lot of us fighting for the championship and Fernando and myself are two drivers who need to get some points," said Button, who qualified on the front row alongside Fernando Alonso. "It is amazing how quickly it can turn around.
"The last race was pretty tough for myself, Fernando and Sebastian – and it can turn around very quickly. But you cannot just hope. I don't think you can wish for others to have failures and reliability issues – you have to beat them on the day and that is exactly what we have to do. None of us know what is going to happen. Fernando wants to win, I want to win. Felipe, Mark, Lewis and Seb do too, so it could be a very busy podium. For me I have to keep my head down.
"I am having a lot of fun, enjoying the car and I am in a position where it is possible to fight for a victory here and that is very exciting. It is my best qualifying for about 24 races."
Button made best use of a high-downforce F-duct package at Monza to emerge as McLaren's best-placed qualifying. Although that decision has left him languishing near the bottom of the speed trap figures – with his 204.7mph comparing to teammate Hamilton's 213.9mph – he is optimistic about how things will pan out for him in the race.
"When you start from the front row you have to aim for a victory and if you cannot get a victory it becomes the next best thing down the order," he said. "The important thing is we have a good car and I have the confidence going into the race race with the balance of the car and confidence on the circuit. We are in a good position and, if you cannot finish on the podium, you have to make sure that you are finishing ahead of people you are competing with for the championship, which is quite a few cars."
When asked about the straightline speed difference between himself and Hamilton, Button said: "I don't think it is quite as big as it looks. Lewis got a very big tow in qualifying which hurt the lap - but that is the reason for such a big difference in straightline speed. It is possibly the same with the Ferraris as well.
"It is a big difference, as normally we are the ones with good straight-line speed, but I will do the best job I can to get in front of the rest. I am not just going to be looking in my mirrors."
Button was also upbeat that Felipe Massa would not adopt a tactical game to try and hurt McLaren's chances in the race.
"I think that Felipe wants a good result here," said Button. "He is not going to do anything out of the ordinary. It is the home GP for Ferrari. He has been there a few years, he is here to race and if he finds himself in the lead in front of Fernando, I don't think you will find him doing anything extraordinary that is going to impede us."