Felipe Massa has thrown down the gauntlet to Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton by insisting that the pressure of racing on home turf in the season finale in São Paulo will only act as a further spur for him to pip the Briton to the drivers' laurels.
Hamilton suggested earlier in the week that whilst Massa will receive a confidence boost from his home support, the Brazilian will also be well aware of the weight of expectation upon his shoulders more than in any other race, claiming: 'You know you are there to entertain the people and you don't want to disappoint them by sending them home empty-handed' [see separate story – click here
His Ferrari rival, however, dismissed such suggestions, and will enter the Brazilian Grand Prix in optimistic mood, having thoroughly dominated the race on the last two occasions, albeit having had to give best to team-mate Kimi Raikkonen this time last year in the interests of the Finn's title challenge.
“The pressure from the fans only helps,” the 27-year-old is quoted by F1SA
as having insisted. “It's always better to have it.
“I've always liked racing at home. You can absorb everything positive from the fans and that helps you do your best.”
Whilst Hamilton has revealed that he has consulted celebrity magician Uri Geller to discuss 'the power of the mind', Massa claimed such preparation 'doesn't help with the driving', albeit acknowledging that 'if it makes you calmer then it's valid'.
The ten-time grand prix winner also recognised the fact that the destiny of the drivers' crown is not really in his hands – with Hamilton needing to finish just fifth to sew up the honours whatever happens – but he vowed to push flat-out for victory nonetheless and then let the rest take care of itself.
“The important thing is to always keep up your hopes and do your best,” he stressed, “which for me means to win the race.
“Perhaps it will not be enough, but it is the only thing I can control, so I intend to try to achieve it.”