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Massa staying calm under pressure 17 Oct 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Fuji Speedway, Japan, Saturday, 11 October 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Fuji Speedway, Japan, Thursday, 9 October 2008 Jean Todt (ITA) Ferrari with Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 A photographer shoots Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 16 October 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 16 October 2008

While Lewis Hamilton has been doing his best to chill out and minimise the pressure, his fellow title rivals Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica have been doing likewise.

With a five-point lead Hamilton has a clear advantage, while Kubica is the outsider who is relying on things going wrong for the others. Massa, however, has a very strong car beneath him and team behind him and, arguably, the best team mate to help him out. If Kimi Raikkonen has the pace to win here, it could aid Massa immensely.

“I think the pressure you have all the time,” Massa said. “When you become a Ferrari driver you have pressure at the beginning of the season, the middle of the season and the end of the season! It doesn't matter the position you are. You have a pressure but it is a different pressure, but you have always the pressure on your side. I think you learn so much how to cope with the pressure and how to think doing your job.

“I feel in the position to do my job in the best way we can and hopefully we do it in the right way. Hopefully we can achieve what we want, and that is the way I think in this moment. It was the way I was thinking in the last race, all the races before and I think in the same way for the next race as well.”

He conceded, however, that the pressure you feel at a race when a championship can actually be won or lost is a bit different, and admitted that it was difficult chasing Hamilton.

“I would prefer to be leading but I am not, so I think we both have the pressure, we both have the difficult time to think about how the race is going to be, and what you need to do to succeed in it. It doesn't matter if you are fighting for the points, or if you are fighting to keep the points. I think both are quite difficult.

“I think it is too early to think about the strategy. For sure I expect Kimi to be in good shape, which is very good for the fight for the championship. I think we both have a good car, which helps. So I think that is the only way that I am thinking now. To try to be very competitive. And if we are in the front then things can be much better.”

Kubica, meanwhile, is 12 points adrift and is relying on his BMW Sauber’s proven reliability, and the likelihood that unsettled weather conditions could generate the sort of beneficial (to him) dramas that characterised the start of the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.

"For the last two races I think the two drivers in front of me have much more to lose than I have to win," he said. "Of course it will be good to have the fastest car, to be able to fight for poles and to be able to win races, and at that point I would say I have some chance, because in normal conditions I would be able to fight. There is no secret that lately we have dropped off pace-wise.

"Additionally, Renault and Toyota were quicker than us in Fuji so that makes my life and the team's much more difficult to compete against Ferrari and McLaren.

"But the last few races have shown up that everything is possible, due to the weather, due to the safety car, due to the first corner accident in Fuji, that racing is unpredictable so that's why we should try to do our best.

"I think the only way to stay in the championship was with consistency and reliability. It was just great this season. Compared to last year we have done very big progress. Last year we had many technical issues, but this year none so the biggest steps were there comparing last year from this year.

"That is why we are still in the game. Of course our position is not the best one, but if I am still among three drivers who can fight for the championship it is due to the reliability which is 100 percent perfect this season."

David Tremayne