Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa says he can understand why Kimi Raikkonen is beginning to feel the pressure in the Scuderia
, saying the increasing attention on his results are subsequently affecting his performances.
The Finn was drafted into the Ferrari team as a replacement for Massa at the start of the 2014 season, but has endured trying fortunes since then. Indeed, though he looked to have put a torrid 2014 behind him with a positive start to 2015, a plateau in recent fortunes – compared with team-mate Sebastian Vettel – prompted Ferrari to make what many considered a veiled call to improve his performances or face the axe in 2016.
It is a situation that Massa can relate to having struggled to find his best form towards the end of his lengthy tenure with Ferrari, the Brazilian saying the pressure is clearly telling on the 2007 world champion now.
“It's not nice to be in that position, I think that is what is important to mention,” he said. “For sure, one of the problems that Kimi has is here [in his head] and it's not really easy to be in that position. Definitely he is suffering more with the pressure than other things.
“Everyone says he's an 'Iceman', but he's not really like that. He can suffer also with the pressure and it shows in the results. He just needs to relax and try to do his best because he is definitely a big talent and can do a lot better than he is doing, everybody knows that. It's just related to him, but it could be possible the team is looking for another driver, so you have some names on the line that maybe the team is looking for.”
Despite this, Massa says this isn't a sign that Ferrari isn't willing to offer him support, but admits the sheer brand that is Ferrari – which sees influences go beyond the racing team – only raises the stakes.
“I think the team supports you definitely, but it's a big company and it's not just the team. Every day you are in the media for good or for bad and sometimes this is not helping the driver or the team to control the driver in the best way as well. But Ferrari is Ferrari and the biggest, most famous team in Formula One, so you have a lot more pressure there than at another team.”