Massa wants home win

Raikkonen admits he has 'nothing to lose' as he faces a tall order to retain his title.

A third successive win on Sunday in Italy will put Felipe Massa back on top of the world championship.
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Ferrari's chief world championship contender Felipe Massa is hoping to give the home fans at Monza plenty to cheer about on Sunday as he targets victory in the Italian Grand Prix. The Brazilian arrives in northern Italy on a high after he inherited the win in last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix when his title rival Lewis Hamilton was controversially stripped of the triumph by the race stewards.

The McLaren-Mercedes driver was judged to have gained an advantage from cutting a chicane while battling with Massa's teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the lead, and then failing to relinquish properly any benefit he had enjoyed from the manoeuvre. He was given a 25-second penalty, which was added to his race time, dropping him to third While McLaren have lodged an appeal over the decision, the attention will return to the track tomorrow with the start of free practice as Massa looks to take the championship lead outright for the first time since the French Grand Prix in June.

He trails Hamilton by two points in the standings and knows that if he is victorious on Sunday and Hamilton is second or worse he will top the championship. But Massa says his main goal is to win in front of Ferrari's home crowd. "I am really motivated to have a great race there, especially in front of all our home fans," he said. While Massa comes to Italy full of confidence, the pressure is on the world champion Kimi Raikkonen who must win if he is to have any hope of retaining his title.

He is 19 points adrift of Hamilton and 17 of Massa, and with only five races left the Finn may have to help his teammate's title tilt if he does not starting making big inroads into his points deficit. Raikkonen, who has finished on the podium for the last two years at Monza without winning the race, admits that he has to finish first in the 53-lap race. "We'll give it all to win, for the team and for the fans," he said.

"It would be fantastic to win the Italian GP for the first time. I've got nothing to lose, so I'll give it all, going flat out." Hamilton and McLaren are facing a herculean task to try to rebound well from their setback in Belgium. But the British racer can take heart from the fact that McLaren dominated last year's race, with Hamilton finishing second behind his then teammate Fernando Alonso. "It is just going to be a very tough fight," Hamilton said of the battle ahead with Ferrari in Italy.

"But I will do everything I can to make sure I come to the next race just as strong, if not stronger." Alonso is unlikely to repeat his win from 12 months ago, driving now for the uncompetitive Renault team, but his name is still expected to be in the news this weekend as speculation continnues to grow on where he will race next year. Honda, Ferrari, BMW and even remaining Renault are among his options.

* Reuters