Heikki Kovalainen has vowed to help Lewis Hamilton and McLaren win the world championship, though he admits there have been no official team orders from above.
The Finn has struggled to match the pace of team-mate Hamilton in recent races and finds himself 27 points adrift of the Briton in the championship, behind both the Ferrari and BMW Sauber drivers.
With only four races remaining Kovalainen is under no allusions that he has a critical role to play in the title scrap between Hamilton and Massa and has promised to offer his support should the opportunities arise.
“I think if I have a chance at some point somehow to help the team of course I will do so,” he said. “The team has not given me any instructions to do something particular, so I will see how the situation is.”
“I think the best thing I can do for the team is to try and take as many points away from the other people as possible.
“The good thing is I can decide myself how the situation looks and there are no instructions from the team.
“We are both trying to do the race with maximum effort whether it is earlier or the end of the season, like we always do.”
Since his sensational pole position at Silverstone in July Kovalainen has struggled to extract the same degree of performance from his McLaren MP4-23 as team-mate Lewis.
In Spa-Francorchamps it was a visibly dejected Kovalainen who faced journalists in the post-qualifying press conference after qualifying almost half a second behind Hamilton, on what later emerged to be a lighter fuel load.
And in the Italian GP at Monza the Finn came under fire for failing to usurp Sebastian Vettel for the race victory, though tyre degradation was a key explanation for this.
“Heikki has no reason to feel disappointed,” said McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh after the Italian Grand Prix. “Let’s not forget that Heikki is fearsomely quick but is still very much developing his approach.”
“We have a clearly defined programme for him in the weeks and months ahead and feel certain that he will only grow stronger.”