Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he is not letting the disappointment of being stripped of victory in the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend get to him as he prepares for this Sunday's Italian round, claiming that he is still the man to beat despite having been penalised five times in 13 races.
The Briton staged a recovery drive to overhaul long-time leader Kimi Raikkonen at Spa-Francorchamps, but was accused of gaining an unfair advantage by cutting the Bus Stop chicane and then using the momentum from his revised line to out-drag the Finn to La Source even after handing the lead back to his rival immediately after his mistake.
Despite being feted as the victor during the podium ceremonies and ensuing press conference, Hamilton was later stripped of top spot and demoted to third place, cutting his championship advantage to just two points as main rival Felipe Massa inherited the win. Despite the setback, however, the McLaren driver claims that, in his mind, he was the rightful winner and heads to Monza confident of re-establishing his advantage by beating Ferrari in its own backyard.
"Everyone in the team feels like we won the race [at Spa] on moral grounds," he told journalists at a routine press gathering in Italy, "I feel great and I think, for the next few races, our car really will suit the circuits just as well as it did at Spa. We are going to make sure we do the best job we can."
"I still have a two-point lead and we are going to make sure that we just continue to attack and perform like we did in the last two races. I'm a racer, I do the best job I can on the track and I race my heart off. There's no-one that puts more heart into it than me, and I really felt, in that last race, that that's what I did. I'm just going to make sure that I keep on doing that and showing people what I can do."
'Heart' clearly means a lot to Hamilton, who went on to suggest that perhaps his Spa rival had been lacking in it during the final stages of their scarp for supremacy.
"That's the way he drives," he said, dismissing claims that he had been able to take advantage of Raikkonen's lack of traction to duck inside him at the hairpin, "If you don't have the balls to brake late, that's your problem...."
Having dismissed the reigning world champion, Hamilton admitted that, despite the on-track battle between McLaren and Ferrari being closely-fought in terms of performance, he thought that he had the upper hand in the championship race.
"[Massa] is the one who has to work damn hard to keep up with me," he claimed, "I feel like I'm coming here off a win, and just moving onto the next race."