Felipe Massa has insisted that he is approaching the final, title-deciding round of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship campaign on home turf this weekend feeling 'zero pressure' as he has 'nothing to lose'. All the heat in São Paulo, he contends, will be on Lewis Hamilton.
Massa enters the season finale trailing his McLaren-Mercedes rival and the long-time championship leader by seven markers in the drivers' standings, what he acknowledges gives him a 'tougher job than Lewis in terms of the points situation'. He equally underlines, however, that he has a far simpler objective than his British rival – repeating his hugely popular Interlagos victory of 2006.
“It's true I have a tougher job than Lewis in terms of the points situation,” the Brazilian affirmed, “but my own objective for the weekend is much more straightforward than his. I only have to focus on winning the race on Sunday afternoon, hopefully with my team-mate second behind me.
“The only thing I am thinking about is winning. After that, the matter is not in my hands and we will have to wait and see exactly what and how much we have won. For sure, Lewis will try and put pressure on me, but I have zero pressure because I have nothing to lose. I have my people behind me and all the pressure will be on him, especially when you think about what happened in this race last year.”
The final comment is a dig at Hamilton having lost the crown in the same grand prix this time in 2007, following a nervous and scrappy opening lap and subsequent gearbox glitch that cost him more than half a minute – and, ultimately, the title by just a single point to Massa's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
What's more, the São Paulista is adamant that he will gain a considerable boost from performing in front of his adoring home fans, and is confident the Scuderia's
F2008 will be the package to beat in Brazil – even if both he and Raikkonen got roundly beaten by Hamilton and McLaren in Shanghai last time out.
“It is impossible to predict what will happen in the Brazilian Grand Prix,” the 27-year-old conceded, “but our car has always been very good at this circuit, even if I cannot explain exactly why. We have always gone well here and I expect that to be the case at the weekend, whatever the conditions, in the dry or in the rain and in qualifying and in the race.
“The race in Shanghai was good from a team point-of-view as Ferrari picked up 14 points and extended its lead in the constructors' [championship], but from my perspective the title race got even tougher, as Lewis won and so I lost an additional two points.
“It was obvious right from Friday practice that McLaren were going to be very hard to beat. We saw they were very competitive, but you can never be completely sure what programme they are running, so it's best to concentrate on your own work, sorting out your own car and not start worrying about the opposition.