Martin Whitmarsh is not planning to let either of his drivers move on anytime soon [GALLO/GETTY] 

After a strong season so far, especially in the wet, it is no surprise that McLaren plan to hold onto Jenson Button next year. Team principle Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday that Jenson Button, who has already won two grand prix this season, will be staying on in 2012.  

"Jenson Button will be with us next year. Full stop," he said at the Italian Grand Prix.

"There is nothing that needs to be sorted. He will be with us next year."

"Jenson Button will be with us next year. Full stop"

Martin Whitmarsh

McLaren have an option on the 2009 world champion for 2012 but recent comments by the Briton about his future have stirred up speculation in the paddock that all might not be proceeding smoothly with contract talks.

Asked on Thursday about the contract situation, Button had told reporters to ask Whitmarsh.

At the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago, when he was also questioned about staying at McLaren, Button had replied: "Well, if he (Whitmarsh) takes up the option."

While Button is widely considered to be McLaren's second driver next to Lewis Hamilton, he is three points ahead of his more hot-headed teammate.

Hamilton storms Monza

Lewis Hamilton put recent controversy behind him to finish just behind Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull after the second practice session on Friday. Hamilton was fastest in the earlier practice session.

The 2008 champion, who faced strong criticism after crashing out of the previous race in Belgium, roared around the fastest track on the calendar.

The Briton has had plenty of incidents since his stellar debut in 2007 but this time has come in for more criticism - perhaps because his frustration has contrasted with world champion Sebastian Vettel's cruise towards a second title.

"I guess I'm an easy target at the moment because I'm always in trouble," Hamilton told reporters.

"Hopefully, at some stage, I'll move away from that spotlight and I'll be in a good light and people will only have good things to say.

"It feels like it's been a worse year than I've had previously. But in 2008 there were some incidents there as well, but I guess because I won the championship they were forgotten."

           Hamilton has had to get use to criticism following a few great years in F1 [GALLO/GETTY] 

Red Bull's Vettel, winner of seven of the 12 races so far and 92 points clear of closest rival, finished fastest in practice but teammate Mark Webber was struggling back in sixth. 

At their home grand prix, Ferrari improved on their first practice session with Felipe Massa fourth fastest and Fernando Alonso just behind in fifth.

Michael Schumacher continued to show his dominance on the circuit finishing third quickest.

The German driver has won at Monza a remarkable five times but has not won a race since coming out of retirement last year. 

"It's always a special feeling to be here in Monza,'' said Schumacher. 

"It certainly looks good in terms of my position today and I'm pleased with that but we will only find out tomorrow what it is really worth."

The Ferrari ace is still a favourite of the tifosi despite now racing for Mercedes at the age of 42.

His enduring popularity was evident from the banners around the circuit.

"Michael, we always wish you well," declared one sheet, written in Ferrari red lettering, festooned from the railings of the main grandstand.

Source: Agencies