World championship leader Lewis Hamilton insists he feels under no more pressure leading the drivers' standings mid-way through his debut season in the top flight, and is confident the much talked-about 'rookie errors' will not creep into his driving.

The McLaren-Mercedes ace currently holds a ten-point advantage over team-mate and reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso, and looks well-placed to further extend that gap as he starts today's French Grand Prix eight places further up the grid than the Spaniard, who suffered costly mechanical gremlins in Q3. If the pressure is mounting, however, Hamilton refuses to acknowledge it.

"I don't feel any more pressure," the 22-year-old underlined. "I just feel I approach every weekend the same. It is great to be in the lead, but obviously there are ten races left and it is way too early to consider winning the championship. We have to keep on pushing to improve the car, be as consistent as possible and work on reliability.

"As a rookie, I still believe it is the same; I am still in my first season. A lot of the other drivers obviously understand that I am still a rookie, but as you go through the season they see you are doing a good job or you have a close battle with them. They can see you are fair, they build the respect they have for you and it grows, but I still think they obviously know I am a rookie and expect me to make a mistake at some point. I am here to prove them wrong."

Pole-sitter Felipe Massa, though, has dismissed the Briton's rookie status, and joked he hoped Hamilton's first mistake would come at Magny-Cours as the pair line up side-by-side on the front row of the grid.

"You never see a guy in the first year leading the championship," the Brazilian Ferrari star asserted. "You definitely cannot see him as a rookie anymore."

 

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