Jacques Villeneuve has warned Jenson Button that it isn't necessarily what happens on track that will decide the outcome of the 2009 Formula One world championship, but the mind games off it.

The 1997 champion has urged Button's chief rival, Brawn Grand Prix team-mate Rubens Barrichello, to use his experience of being Michael Schumacher's partner at Ferrari to do what he can to overcome the 15-point deficit he currently faces.

"Whoever wins the championship is a hero and the other one is a complete loser - no-one remembers the guy who lost," he told Britain's Mirror newspaper, "In that situation, what are you going to do? Help your team-mate? Of course not!

"Early in the season the whole team needed [the drivers to co-operate], fine. But, in the last few races, when it would be horrible for someone else to win the championship, it's a fair fight.

"They should be keeping technical information to themselves. You shouldn't go out and openly say 'drive this way, you'll see it's faster'. They'll see the data. You can't lie, but you don't have to say what's in your head."

"If you can figure out something better than the other guy, why should you tell him? Frankly, I see nothing wrong with one engineer witholding information from another engineer. It's two racers and two engineers trying to be the best in the world."

Button needs to score five points more than Barrichello to win the title at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, and Villeneuve has told the Briton that he needs to have faith in himself to see the job through.

"You have to believe it's yours - if you don't believe, it won't happen," he warned, "You have to stay strong in the head."