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Button is sixth in the drivers’ standings, 63 points behind Alonso, and McLaren is second to Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, 54 points back.

“Monza is one of the greatest circuits in the world and our car seems to be particularly well suited to high-speed circuits, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be competitive again this weekend,” Button said.

Built in 1922 in a royal park north of Milan, Monza is one of F1’s iconic circuits. The Italian GP is one of only four races to have survived from the first year of F1 in 1950, and the crumbling banking that formed part of the original Monza layout was still adjacent to the modern track.

“For me, there’s something about Formula One’s older circuits that’s very special,” Hamilton said. “Despite each being very different, the newer tracks all seem to have the same character and the same sort of rhythm, but the older circuits are very different.

“They feel like the land has shaped and influenced them rather than the other way around. I like that _ it means you never fall into any particular comfort zone and you’re always pushing the car one way or the other to get the best from any lap.”

Alonso won with Ferrari at Monza in 2010, having taken his first victory at the track in 2007 with McLaren-Mercedes.

“It’s always special and the expectations are very high,” Alonso said. “From a driver’s point of view it’s a strange circuit, though. There are only five curves and two chicanes, which don’t give you much of a chance to make an impact. It’s not difficult for a driver but you need a very fast car on the straights.”

Meanwhile, Ma Qing Hua is slated to become the first Chinese driver to take part in an F1 weekend when he replaces Narain Karthikeyan at HRT for the first practice session.