Ferrari's Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso played to the Brazilian Grand Prix crowd today by saying he hoped team mate Felipe Massa would win the last two races of the season.
While that would go down a storm at Interlagos, a circuit whose basic facilities are easily forgiven in the embrace of the most passionate crowd on the calendar, the Spaniard was also thinking of his own best interests.
Alonso is 11 points clear of Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber and 21 ahead of former McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton. If results go his way, he could win the title on Sunday rather than having to wait until Abu Dhabi a week later.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is 25 points off the pace while McLaren's reigning champion Jenson Button is barely in mathematical contention, 42 behind the leader.
Massa, who has already had to let Alonso beat him for victory this season in a controversial German Grand Prix, is out of contention but always impressive in front of his home fans.
"Felipe normally is very strong here," Alonso told reporters.
"I think the best thing for us and even for me in championship numbers will be to have Felipe winning the race because it takes 25 points from everybody else, which is the biggest difference this year.
"There are 25 for first and 18 for second. From second to third and third to fourth is a very small difference which may allow me to keep the advantage I have," added the 29-year-old who won his 2005 and 2006 titles with Renault in Brazil.
"The worry for me is the 25 points, if one of these contenders take this 25 points. Hopefully Felipe can win both races because that will be the best thing for me."
Formula One's new 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scoring system has put far more of a premium on winning than the old 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 structure.
Massa has been on pole position in his last three Brazilian Grands Prix - he was injured last year and present only to wave the chequered flag - and won two of them.
The Sao Paulo native would have won all three had he not moved aside to allow team mate Kimi Raikkonen to take the race and title by a single point from Hamilton and Alonso in a sensational 2007 comeback.
"When you have a driver there taking points away from the other drivers who are fighting for the championship it's always important," the Brazilian told a news conference. "I see myself there."
Asked whether he would move aside for Alonso, he replied: "I did it already, no? in 2007... I am a professional driver."
As Alonso made clear, such a move might not be necessary this time despite the title battle raging around him.
"I expect me to win the race as well," continued Massa. "And I will do the best I can to win the race for them (the local fans), for the people.
"Even after the race in Germany, when I arrived in Brazil the people were very nice with me, very fantastic and pushing me forward. The real people are great. Journalists are much more difficult."
Alonso separately played down his chances of taking the title with a race to spare, pointing out the importance of luck and engine reliability.
"Our approach will not change in these next two races. Consistency will be the first priority, being on the podium in both races will be our goal," he said.
"We know Red Bull is favourite in any circuit, they have been very dominant in this 2010 championship."