Lewis Hamilton insists that he is not worried by the presence of Formula One title rival Felipe Massa on the front row of the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, despite the Brazilian getting the better of him in each of the last two similar scenarios.
While Massa would have been expected to have the upper hand from pole position in Valencia last time out, perhaps his strongest statement of intent came in Hungary, when he out-dragged Hamilton through turn one, emerging from an outside line to take a lead that only late engine failure would cause him to lose.
Now, in Belgium, the Ferrari driver managed to squeeze out a time that put him between polewinner Hamilton and McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen on a day when the MP4-23 appeared to be the car to have, but Hamilton, which acknowledging his rival's improved form, insists that he intends to only see him in his mirrors.
"He's obviously been very quick in the last couple of races, and his starts have been going better and better," the points leader admitted, "In Hungary, I think we had a very good start [but], in the last race, I don't that we had the best - but we were on the dirtier side [of the track].
"I don't know whether we're on the clean side here, I don't particularly think there is a real clean side, [but] the team has been working very hard, and there's not really much more that I can do. If the grip's there, if the settings are right, then I will be able to extract the most from it but, one, if you don't have the grip, you struggle and, two, there are some areas that we can improve on. But I think we will be strong tomorrow."
Spa's comparatively short start-finish start should be an advantage, Hamilton added, giving him the best chance of converting pole into the lead at the notoriously tricky La Source hairpin that opens the lap.
"I think, for the start, it perhaps makes it a little bit easier," the Briton agreed, "I think the longer the straight from the startline, the more effect a good start will have, but I think it's tricky here. There's turn one and then you've got the longest straight in the world after that. It's going to be an interesting start, but I plan on staying ahead."
Although Ferrari dominated the timesheets on Friday, McLaren moved increasingly to the fore during qualifying, with Heikki Kovalainen posting the fastest lap of the weekend in the second phase of qualifying and Hamilton subsequently claiming pole.
"It's been going pretty smoothly, we've not had any problems [and] the car's reliable," the Briton confirmed, "I think, yesterday, we just made sensible choices and good steps forward with the limited running that we had, and also this morning. But I felt pretty sure, coming here compared to last year, that the car that I have, the set-up that I've worked on with my engineers, would be suitable for here, so I've felt pretty much on it all weekend."