It was a simple moment but it spoke volumes.
Early in Sunday’s V8 Supercars race at Queensland Raceway, six-time series champion Whincup meekly surrendered third place to teammate Craig Lowndes.
The Holden driver allowed Lowndes through to set off and do battle with the front-running Fords of Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert while he continued his 2015 struggles.
Lowndes would go on to finish second and complete a hat-trick of podium finishes for the weekend.
Whincup however had a hiccup in both of his pit stops, ran off track when battling Mercedes’ Will Davison for seventh place and then just held on to eighth spot as others closed in rapidly in the race’s final laps.
It means with over half the season gone Whincup is 483 points behind championship leader Winterbottom, more than a complete round off the pace.
“It was a lack of pace today and we were a sitting duck from the beginning,” Whincup said.
“I let Lowndesy through at the start as I didn’t want to hold up my teammate and he was able to get through so it was great for him to get up to second.
“I just slowly dropped back in the pack and thankfully the chequered flag fell on lap 65 as we had a few more cars closing in.”
Lowndes believes it would be a “long shot” if his teammate can retain the championship crown.
“It’s one of those things where you’ve been at the top for so long, eventually you’re going to have a bad year,” he said.
“This week he’s improved, his qualifying has improved … he’s obviously not comfortable in the car at the moment.
“I know he’ll be strong for the endurance races.”