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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Relaxed Hamilton ignores pressure

Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
Practice: Friday 1200-1330 and 1600-1730 GMT Qualifying: Saturday 1600 Race: Sunday 1700 Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport website and ITV1

Lewis Hamilton
Championship leader Hamilton stayed cool as he faced the media in Brazil

Lewis Hamilton insists he will approach Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix like any other race, even though the world championship is at stake.

Hamilton has a seven-point lead over title rival Felipe Massa - the same lead he held over Kimi Raikkonen, who denied him the 2007 title in Brazil.

"Last year it was all a bit hectic and the pressure of the last race, perhaps it got to me," said Hamilton.

"But this year I feel it's just another race and I know we will be strong."

Hamilton saw the title slip through his fingers at Interlagos last season when he ran off the road trying to pass his then McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso on the first lap.

His race went from bad to worse as a gearbox problem left him at the back of the field and, though he recovered to seventh, Raikkonen took the chequered flag to snatch the title by a single point.

606: DEBATE
Speed999

This season the Englishman hopes a more considered approach will help him avoid mistakes in Brazil and secure enough points to clinch a maiden drivers' crown.

"It's quite simple really," said Hamilton, who only needs to finish fifth to capture the championship even if Massa wins.

"We're here to win, but we don't have to win, so that's some pressure off our shoulders.

"We obviously know it's not do or die so we can afford to finish behind first. It's just another race, that's the way to approach it and that's how I've done it in the past.

"It's exciting and everyone will enjoy it because it's the last race and we will we give it the best shot we can to come out on top."

WHAT HAMILTON NEEDS TO DO
If Massa wins in Brazil, Hamilton must finish at least fifth to be champion
If Massa is second, Hamilton must finish at least seventh
If Massa is third or lower, Hamilton is champion regardless of his result in Brazil

Hamilton rejected suggestions that team tactics or foul play could be a factor in settling the season finale.

"We're here to race," said Hamilton, who at the penultimate Chinese Grand Prix was dogged by accusations of aggressive driving.

"I believe every driver here is a great sportsman and we're all very competitive.

"I just have to trust and believe in everybody and hope we can have a fair, straight race."

An equally cool Massa insisted he was undaunted about the prospect of clawing back a seven-point deficit on home soil.

The Ferrari driver, who says he "grew up" at the Interlagos circuit, won his home race in 2006 and was second to Raikkonen last year after letting him pass.

"I would much rather arrive here seven points ahead, not behind, but I am very optimistic," said Massa.

"I hope to have a good race and I want to win the championship, but the rest of it does not rest on me.

"All I can say is that the optimism for me is 100%.

"It's a great feeling and a great time to be here; fighting for the championship in my home country."

Lewis Hamilton (left) and Felipe Massa
Hamilton (left) and Massa are the last men standing in the 2008 title race

Massa's task could, however, be hampered by wet weather as rain has been forecast for this weekend.

Hamilton has proven himself to be a consistent performer in the wet while Massa has attracted criticism over his ability to handle the rain.

The McLarens are also better able to handle cooler conditions than the Ferraris, but Massa dismissed suggestions that could hamper his chances.

"People say I cannot drive in wet conditions because in F1 I had lots of negative wet races," said the Brazilian.

"The car influences this a lot and it is not news that our car suffers in the race when it is heavy rain conditions where the tyre has lower temperatures.

"That is a factor, but I never thought I would not be able to drive in the rain. I had some races this year, unfortunately, where I was no good, but in Monaco I was the fastest car in the rain so I don't believe it."



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see also
Will Hamilton win the world title?
30 Oct 08 |  Formula One
I will help Massa win - Raikkonen
29 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Massa shrugs off title pressure
28 Oct 08 |  Formula One
F1 standings
03 Jul 07 |  Motorsport
Interlagos, Brazil
17 Feb 08 |  Circuit Guide
The man Hamilton must beat
30 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari make F1 engine row threat
28 Oct 08 |  Motorsport
Schumacher expects Hamilton reign
27 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton targets final title push
24 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton can take pressure - Hill
19 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton 'calm' over title finale
19 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton closes on title with win
19 Oct 08 |  Formula One


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