McLaren boss Ron Dennis has rubbished claims that Lewis Hamilton will rely on 'help' from team-mate Heikki Kovalainen if he is to win this year's Formula One world title, insisting that the Briton can - and wants to - achieve the honour through his own endeavour.
Three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart had suggested over the weekend that Kovalainen needed to raise his game if Hamilton was to see off Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, as well as BMW Sauber outsider Robert Kubica, over the remaining eight rounds of the season, but Dennis insists that that is not the case after watching the Briton triumph in different circumstances at Silverstone and Hockenheim recently.
"Kovalainen has got to be able take a position away from a Ferrari driver - you can't have a one-driver team in this sport," Stewart told Britain's Mirror
newspaper over the weekend, "The way the season is panning out, it is going to be nip and tuck for the drivers' championship right to the end of the season. Lewis has to be well supported by his team-mate."
Dennis, however, countered the Scot's suggestion by claiming that Formula One had changed since Stewart's day.
"The fact is that Sir Jackie retired from motor racing in 1973, which is 35 years ago, and the sport has moved on in that time," he was quoted by Reuters
, "Jackie's suggestion that Lewis' world championship campaign depends on Heikki's assistance pre-supposes that Heikki's task is to drive in support of Lewis - and that simply isn't the case."
McLaren has admitted that Kovalainen's results have been disappointing in his first year with the team, but insisted that the Finn's tally of a single podium - compared to Hamilton's four victories - has not been solely down to poor form.
"Let's not forget that Heikki is a brilliant racing driver - his pass of Robert Kubica at Hockenheim reminded anybody who needed reminding that he has all the speed and skill to be battling at the front," CEO Martin Whitmarsh pointed out, "But there's no magic in Formula One and we still need to work with Heikki to extract his full potential."
There was an air of controversy during the German Grand Prix that did not reflect well on Kovalainen, who appeared to provide easy passage to his team-mate's recovery charge from fifth to first, but Dennis insists that Hamilton needed no extra help in his quest to win the title in his second season.
"The truth is that Lewis doesn't want
any help," he said, "He and Heikki are good mates, but they're both highly competitive individuals and they take their own decisions."