Both Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have dismissed notions that the former will receive much help from Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in his bid to add a third world championship crown to his impressive career CV in F1 2010 – as both similarly seek to deflect the attention and therefore pressure onto the other.
One of the key factors reckoned to be playing in Alonso's favour over the crucial final four races of what has been a nail-biting campaign thus far, is that the Spaniard is the only one of the five title contenders to not be battling against the other driver in the same team as him, with Webber and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Racing, and countrymen Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at McLaren-Mercedes all still very much in with a shout of glory.
What's more, having conceded his own chances of clinching the crown – despite being mathematically still in the chase – Massa has vowed to support Alonso's challenge, and has indeed already ceded points to his team-mate in the now infamous German Grand Prix at Hockenheim back during the summer.
However, neither Alonso nor world championship leader Webber believe the Brazilian will play a particualrly pivotal role in the destiny of the laurels, and the latter is confident there will be no repeat of the kind of questionable tactics employed by Ferrari during the Michael Schumacher/Eddie Irvine days, when the Ulsterman deliberately slowed down the German's rivals in order to facilitate his escape.
"We've seen it once [at Hockenheim] where Fernando benefits a lot," the Australian mused. "To make it work they need to be basically together on the track, so whether we'll see it again...I don't think Fernando needs much help from Felipe. Holding people up intentionally is not cricket, but it won't happen."
"I think if I'm doing well, as I have in the last two races, it's not such a big difference," concurred Alonso.
Meanwhile, whilst the in-form Oviedo native has suggested Red Bull is the team with everything to lose in this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka – a circuit that in practice has already proven to suit the Adrian Newey-designed RB6 down to the ground [see separate story – click here
] – by the same token, Webber has bluntly rejected the tag of pre-race and title favourite, insistent that the drivers' trophy could feasibly go any which way.
"I'm not the favourite,” urged the man from Queanbeyan. “I'm not even thinking about the title. It could all change very quickly – in a good way for me or in a bad way. It's on a knife-edge, but I'm very relaxed.
"I need to keep racing hard and going for victories. I will leave no change on the table, and the points will look after themselves. We hope [to have an advantage in Japan], but hoping doesn't mean much – we need to do it on the track. I expect Ferrari to be in the hunt here and all three teams to be quick."
"It is no surprise that Red Bull are favourites again," countered Alonso. "The characteristics of Suzuka are favourable to Red Bull – but that doesn't mean they will win the race very easily. We saw this year circuits which were good for Red Bull were not 100 per cent victories for them because something happened.
"We need to keep pushing them, because of the four races remaining Suzuka is good for them but the other three are a bit unknown. We expect some tough moments to come so we need to be prepared for those, not to panic and to score as many points as possible at each race."