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Hamilton trying to stay calm ahead of final race

Hamilton trying to stay calm ahead of final race

Lewis Hamilton enters the decisive Brazilian Grand Prix trying to downplay the pressure he faces as he gets another shot at the Formula One title.
Although the title is his to lose for the second year in a row, Hamilton is hoping a new approach to the season-ending race in Interlagos will help him avoid the mistakes that cost him the title a year ago.
"Last year, perhaps the pressure got to me," Hamilton said Thursday. "But this year I feel it's just another race."
Hamilton let the title slip away in his rookie season after a mistake trying to make a pass in the first lap and then got hurt by a gear box problem in his McLaren that led to a disappointing seventh-place finish, good only for second in the championship behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
This year, Hamilton again enters the final race with a comfortable advantage, a seven-point lead over Ferrari's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa. Hamilton came into last year's race four points in front of Renault's Fernando Alonso and seven in front of Raikkonen.
Hamilton needs to finish fifth or better to secure the title this year. He can win the championship even without finishing the race if Massa, the home-crowd favorite, is not first or second. A win is worth 10 points, and second through eighth are 8-6-5-4-3-2-1.
"It's quite simple," Hamilton said. "We don't have to win, so that's some pressure off our shoulders. We come here with a strong package and we hope we can challenge for a win. We will do the best job we can."
Massa, who won his home race in 2006 and was second to Raikkonen last year, hopes the boost of the nearly 70,000 fans expected to pack Interlagos on Sunday can make a difference in his favor.
"For sure the position (we are in) is quite difficult," Massa said. "But I have a great time in my country ... and I'll have a great push from my fans."
Both drivers are seeking their first F1 titles. Hamilton can become F1's youngest champion at age 23, and the first British champion since Damon Hill in 1996. Massa can become the first driver to win a title in front of his home crowd since the inaugural F1 season in 1950, when Italy's Giuseppe Farina won at the season-ending Italian Grand Prix.
Massa could also become the first non-European driver to win the title since Canada's Jacques Villeneuve in 1997, and the first Brazilian champion since the late Ayrton Senna in 1991.
Hamilton may have a small disadvantage entering the weekend. He will have to use the same engine for the second consecutive race, while Massa will have a new one. Drivers are required to use the same engine in at least two consecutive races.
The weather could also be a factor this year, making the race even more unpredictable. Forecasters said there is a 70-percent chance of rain during the race which could favor Hamilton, who has been one of the most consistent drivers on wet tracks this season.
It is the third straight year the F1 season is decided in the final race in Brazil. The Brazilian GP also crowned Alonso as champion in 2005, when it was the third-to-last race in the calendar.
The race is the last for Red Bull's David Coulthard, who is retiring. Rubens Barrichello has also hinted he may quit, after competing in more GPs than any other F1 driver. The Brazilian has not renewed his contract with Honda and is yet to decide for which team he would drive if he returns for a 17th season.