Button unconcerned by off-track issues

Salisbury Journal: Jenson Button refuses to get involved with the speculation surrounding Lewis Hamilton Jenson Button refuses to get involved with the speculation surrounding Lewis Hamilton

Jenson Button believes McLaren proved morale is high within the team after setting the pace in practice for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Despite the media attention focused on McLaren, in particular on team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the Woking-based marque conjured a one-two in the second 90-minute session.

Hamilton, in the spotlight as he mulls over whether to stay with McLaren or end his 14-year association with the team and instead join Mercedes, was quickest with a lap of one minute 25.290secs. Button, runner-up in the last three races at Monza, said: "The morale in the team is good, we just want to race."

Button, who finished second fastest in both sessions, was just 0.038secs adrift as he looks to build on his victory in Belgium last weekend. But even the 32-year-old cannot avoid being asked questions regarding Hamilton, seemingly putting all in McLaren under pressure.

Button added: "I've shown whatever is going on off the circuit, it doesn't matter, you have to focus on the job in hand. The bit we love, the bit for us that is most important is driving the car. It's always going to be number one."

Given the furore surrounding Hamilton, he at least concedes the constant hype surrounding his future is on his mind.

Asked whether all the questions were a distraction, Hamilton said: "I don't think so. I try my hardest to let other people worry about that. Of course, every now and again it pops into your mind, but you have to keep your eye on the ball, and that's the most important thing at the moment."

For Hamilton, it is all about letting his driving do the talking, especially after becoming embroiled in a four-car pile-up at the first corner at Spa five days ago, an incident that has severely hampered his title chances.

Assessing his prospects for the weekend to come, Hamilton said: "We do have a great car. The guys have done a fantastic job back at the factory to tune the set-up and aerodynamic package we have this weekend.

"It's still very close between ourselves, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus, but we're not in a bad position. We've still got some work to do to try and improve to find more time, particularly on our long runs."

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