Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that he will have to temper his ambitions in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix to best suit the needs of the McLaren team - even if it means giving up the chance of adding to his win tally.

The Finn was the best-placed of the 'big two' drivers after the first corner melee at Fuji last Sunday but, even as he closed in on Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso, the Mercedes engine in the back of his MP4-23 gave up the ghost, denying him a shot at win number two for the year.

Now heading to the Shanghai International Circuit for the second time, Kovalainen knows that, while winning the Chinese Grand Prix would be good for both his own ego and McLaren's constructors' championship chances, team-mate Lewis Hamilton is sitting precariously on a scant five-point lead in the drivers' standings.

"Despite not finishing in Fuji, I can take some positives away from Japan," he insisted, "I was fast all weekend and was looking good for an extremely strong result, maybe even a win.

"For now, though, it's important to keep scoring points, as we are fighting for the constructors' championship, and Lewis is fighting for the drivers' championship. I know I don't have much to lose, but I'm aware that we need to keep scoring points to do the maximum for the team. I can't go completely crazy and try my luck. I need to be sensible, but I'll still be attacking."

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh is similarly caught in a strategic dilemma, whether to adopt an aggressive or circumspect approach to the penultimate round.

"For qualifying, you want to have a suitably aggressive strategy, otherwise you are not going to be in the race," he insisted, "Then, as the race develops, you are afforded the possibility to become slightly more circumspect to ensure you're scoring the points you need to fight for the world championship. And that is the approach we take into these races."

It was in China last season, however, that Hamilton's title ambitions began to unravel as, from a potential championship-winning position, he retired from the race and then, having allowed Kimi Raikkonen to close up in the standings, saw the crown slip through his fingers altogether at Interlagos. Whitmarsh, however, insisted that McLaren would not be allowing nerves to get the better of anyone in either China or Brazil.

"The reality is that the last race of the season is no different from the first," he insisted, "However, at the end of the year, it's much clearer in everyone's minds that the championship could be decided by a mistake - one made by another title contender or ourselves.

"Both teams have made several mistakes this year but, at this critical stage in the season, a further mistake by either side could determine the championship. As a result, everybody within the team is being very diligent and cautious. We have done a fantastic job so far this year, and we aim to round off the season by continuing that approach."