Craig Lowndes has revealed he has noticed a “change" in Jamie Whincup, who is preparing to retire at the end of the season.
Whincup confirmed in February that the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship would be the final season of his full-time driving career.
The seven-time champion is set to transition into team management, taking over from Roland Dane as team principal and managing director of Red Bull Ampol Racing from 2022.
At the time of the announcement, Lowndes admitted he was surprised, but was adamant Whincup would apply himself "110 per cent" to win an unprecedented eighth championship.
Following the OTR SuperSprint, where Whincup lost ground to teammate Shane van Gisbergen, Lowndes weighed in on how he thinks his former Bathurst-winning co-driver is dealing with the shift.
“I think the demeanour of Jamie I think has changed,” said Lowndes, a full-time teammate of Whincup between 2006 and 2018.
“Because if you looked in the transporter previously, he would be sifting through loads of data.
“He is a details guy, [Mark Larkham] is right.
“But I’ve seen a change in him; he’s been a bit more relaxed, and more like, ‘It wasn’t our day’.
"It’s changed his demeanour a little bit and I think because he knows next year, he is coming out of a full-time drive, and moving into the chair."
Whincup is currently second in the standings and won Race 7 at the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.
But by the seven-time champion's standards, it was an underwhelming return to Tailem Bend for Whincup, who ceded critical ground to van Gisbergen in the title fight.
With van Gisbergen scoring the most points across the weekend, despite failing to win a race, the Kiwi’s points lead blew out to 190 points.
Five-time Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Skaife who retired in 2008, admitted he is unsure how Whincup would be handling the transition.
"The mentality of it is really hard," Skaife explained.
"It’s very personal, you don’t really know what’s going on with Jamie in terms of how his emotions are through his final season as a full-time driver, nor do you know some of the background things in terms of his workload.
“He’s going to be the CEO of the team, running the business, having all those employees and having to write commercial deals.
“You’ve got a lot of background things and because he is well prepared, he will be starting to think about those preparations and little glimpses of thinking about what does life look next year.
“That would probably take some attention and preparation away from his core driving.
“I don’t really know, and it’s an interesting one.”
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Victoria for the Winton SuperSprint across May 28-30. Tickets are available here.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.