SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Formula One fan favourite Kimi Raikkonen is feeling the heat at Ferrari despite his icy reputation and needs to chill out, according to the Finn’s former team mate Felipe Massa.
Raikkonen -- famed for his taciturn character and penetrating gaze -- has ‘Iceman’ tattooed on his arm but faces a storm of speculation about his future at Formula One’s most glamorous team.
“Everybody says ‘Iceman’, I tell you he’s not really like that,” Brazilian Massa, who partnered Raikkonen at Ferrari from 2007 to 2009 and was replaced by him in 2014, told reporters at the British Grand Prix on Thursday.
“For sure he can suffer as well with the pressure and he shows that as well in some results,” continued the Williams driver.
“He just needs to relax and try to do his best because he’s definitely a big talent and can do a lot better than what he’s doing. Everybody knows that.”
Massa said he experienced similar pressure at Ferrari when the rumour mill regularly targeted him with talk of his departure from the sport’s most successful team.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, is out of contract at the end of the season although Ferrari have an option on him.
The Finn crashed on the opening lap in Austria 11 days ago after he lost control of his car.
Although he finished second in Bahrain, that was his first podium finish since he was at Lotus in 2013.
Massa said it could be that Ferrari wanted to replace Raikkonen, voted the most popular driver in a global fan survey, but the situation was also fuelled by the media.
“Ferrari is a big company so every day you are in the media for good or for bad. Sometimes this is not helping the driver or even the team,” he said.
”Definitely you have a lot more pressure there than maybe another team. ..I felt a lot of pressure in difficult moments and you need to just relax.
“That’s what I did and I was happy to go to the right place and things changed in the better way for me.”
Raikkonen, appearing in a separate news conference, said he was trying his best.
“The last race was a bit difficult but that’s a part of the game,” he said. “I don’t know anything more than you guys. I will know hopefully at some point what will happen.”
(The story repeats fixing the spelling of Prix in the third paragraph)
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Lovell