Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali insists that everyone involved in this year's Formula One title fight will be nervous during the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, but suggests that Felipe Massa may be better off as the underdog.
The Brazilian heads to his home circuit at Interlagos knowing that he needs to overcome a seven-point deficit to championship leader Lewis Hamilton, but also aware that team-mate Kimi Raikkonen did just that as the Briton suffered a poor performance in last year's season finale at the same venue. Without a third player in the mix - as Fernando Alonso was in 2007 - however, Hamilton 'only' needs to finish fifth next Sunday, making him the definite favourite.
Domenicali, however, insists that there will be nerves on both sides of the battle, with Hamilton keen not to slip up again - especially with the hyper-critical British media watching his every move - and Ferrari aware that its own performance, notably in the pits and at last weekend's Chinese GP - has been far from perfect.
"I think that the pressures are on both sides, to be honest," the Italian claimed, "I was discussing that [on Sunday] morning with [McLaren CEO] Martin Whitmarsh, [and] we know that everyone is concentrated, but terrified that something unexpected can happen.
"For sure, I'm expecting Lewis to think 'oh my God, I'm not expecting to have another difficult race'. On the other hand, you may think that Felipe is doing the same, and we are doing the same as a team, so I think it will be very important to keep cool - on the drivers' side and
teams' side - and see what will be the outcome of both championships."
Despite carrying the expectations of a nation, which will be willing him to become the first Brazilian world champion since the late Ayrton Senna, Domenicali expects Massa to be in a better frame of mind at his home race, simply because he is now very much the outsider for the title.
"I think that Sunday was the most tense race for Felipe because there was the possibility for Lewis to win the championship at [the Chinese] Grand Prix," Domenicali explained, "Considering the fact that he has seen that he was not competitive enough to beat Lewis [in Shanghai], and the fact that you never know about the reliability, you have to really arrive at the point where you say 'listen, okay, we've done what we could have done, the maximum'.
"I'm expecting Felipe to be more - I don't think it's correct to say relaxed - but more tranquil in Brazil than [in China], and I'm pretty sure that he will handle the pressure in a positive way."
Although recent quotes attributed to the Finn may suggest otherwise, Massa also knows that he will have the support of team-mate Raikkonen should it be needed to beat Hamilton in Brazil. The out-going world champion was clearly faster than his better-placed team-mate in Sunday's Chinese GP, but backed off - sometimes to the tune of two seconds a lap - to allow Massa to close in and, eventually, take second place, keeping the deficit to Hamilton at seven points, rather than nine.