Mika Hakkinen has hinted for the first time that he may be prepared to support team mate David Coulthard's increasingly tough bid to win the world championship.
The Finnish former double world champion has admitted that his title hopes are "extremely small".
Hakkinen has slipped a massive 69 points behind leader Michael Schumacher and could only take the title if he wins the last seven races and Schumacher - who has won six races - does not pick up another point. Coulthard also faces a tough task to overhaul the German: he is currently nursing a 31-point deficit coming into his home race.
"There has not been a lot of discussion inside the team at this point in the season, but I have been looking at how many points I have," said Hakkinen. "I have an extremely small chance to be there now so we should work as a team.
"We will see how the races develop and make some decisions together."
McLaren's policy has always been to treat both drivers exactly the same until one of them no longer has a mathematical chance of taking the title. In Hakkinen's case, that could come after this weekend's race.
The McLaren driver also attempted once again to quash increasing speculation that he is set to retire at the end of the season
"I am surprised to hear those rumours because I have not spoken to any journalists since the French Grand," he continued. "It is just chit chat."
Asked directly if he would retire he said: "No. The team has an option on me next year and we are at the moment discussing it and looking for solutions with Ron (Dennis, team boss). Ron likes fast drivers."
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