As the 2010 World Championship battles heats up, so too is the competitive rivalry between Red Bull's teammates.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are openly not friends, but with just two races to go this season and 14 points between them, some believe Vettel should now be helping his Australian teammate to the title.
"I am not giving up," 23-year-old German Vettel said on Thursday in an interview with the DPA press agency.
"It would be stupid to give up the belief in the title. I will continue to fight," he said.
Vettel was asked whether he has a cooperative "deal" in place with Webber as the season winds down.
"That is too far away," he answered. "I must just concentrate on my performance."
Earlier this week, Webber indicated Vettel is only regarded as the team's "superstar" because of his young age.
Vettel's apparent rejoinder is a barb about the pair's exits from the recent Korean Grand Prix, with Webber crashing and Vettel retiring with an engine failure.
"Let's put it this way: I would have been far more disappointed if I had thrown away the car over a personal fault," said the German.
He said he is not worried about losing the support of his team in deference to Webber.
"I know that my team supports me and that I don't have to be worried," Vettel said.
Vettel's Brazil Engine Raced Twice Already In 2010
The engine to be used by Sebastian Vettel in Brazil this weekend has already contested two Grands Prix, it has emerged.
The German was heading for the lead of the World Championship two weeks ago when the Renault unit in his Red Bull suddenly failed.
Renault's customer programme boss Fabrice Lom revealed on Thursday that the unit to be fitted in Vettel's RB6 this weekend has contested two previous races.
"It is the engine from Italy and Singapore," confirmed the Frenchman to Auto Motor und Sport.
"It has a mileage of 1066 kilometres," he added.
The failed engine in Korea had completed about 1600 kilometres of its projected 2000 life.
Lom said the failure was a connecting rod in cylinder four.
'Pay Drivers' Keep Existing Names Worried About Future
An increasing trend for 'pay drivers' in Formula One is casting a pall over the futures of many of the sport's existing names.
Even Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced driver in the sport's history, is having to wait for Williams to evaluate the talent of the well-funded new GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado in Abu Dhabi later this month.
"I'm talking deeply with Williams and nobody else. My feeling is that I will be here next year," he said.
His teammate Nico Hulkenberg is less confident.
"What can I say?" said the 23-year-old German, who stands to lose his seat after just a single season in F1.
"It is very hard and it's very unfortunate and disappointing that formula one is in the situation again of pay drivers."
Adrian Sutil, with $5m in backing from the German electronics brand Medion, was also thought a contender for the Williams seat but it is now expected he is staying with Force India.
Nick Heidfeld had hoped Sutil's move might open up a rare vacancy in an F1 paddock still feeling the effect of a shortage of sponsors and the global financial crisis.
When asked about his situation regarding 2011, he answered on Thursday: "It's about others, about politics and about money."
Heidfeld agrees with Hulkenberg that pay-drivers are wielding more influence today than in the recent past.
"It's massively worse than it was a few years ago -- if I brought money, I would be easily in Formula One (in 2011)," said the 33-year-old.
A Championship For Alonso Through Team Orders Would Be A Shame: Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld on Thursday said it would be a shame if the team orders saga is seen to have influenced the outcome of the drivers' World Championship.
With two races to go, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is 11 points ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber in the points standings.
Seven of those points were earned in Hockenheim, where Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa was controversially moved aside despite team orders being banned in F1.
Ferrari was fined $100,000 for the move but Alonso kept his points.
"If Alonso wins the championship with a margin less than the 7 points, it would devalue the championship -- that's a personal view," said former FIA President Max Mosley.
Red Bull's team boss Christian Horner agrees, stating that seeing Alonso win because of the extra points would be "frustrating".
Sauber driver Heidfeld said in Brazil on Thursday: "From a team's perspective, it (team orders) is perhaps understandable.
"But it would be a shame if the Championship is decided by the fact that Red Bull has followed the rules while others see it maybe differently.
"If that happens, I would really hope that Red Bull's behaviour is seen in a positive way," the German is quoted by the news agency SID.
Earlier this week, McLaren team boss and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh refused to say a title win for Alonso would reflect badly on the sport.
"I think we've had a very good Championship and that's what we should think about, full stop," he said.