Lewis Hamilton has stated his belief that he 'morally deserves' to win the 2008 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship - as Bernie Ecclestone has similarly backed the British star to lift the laurels at season's end.

Hamilton now holds just a slender one-point advantage over Ferrari rival Felipe Massa in the standings following the Italian Grand Prix at the weekend - pending his Spa-Francorchamps appeal - and, in the wake of criticism from a number of his rivals over what they deemed to be his robust driving standards at Monza [see separate story - click here], has vowed to push harder than ever over the final four races of the campaign.

"I'm a fighting force," the 23-year-old is quoted as having asserted by British newspaper The Sun. "I'll continue to prove that there's nothing that can put me off or bring me down.

"I've showed I'm more mature this year. I'm focusing on keeping myself in shape and not letting anything distract me. I am not messing around doing stupid things, just keeping myself nice and quiet and doing everything right.

"Morally, I think I deserve the title and I'll do everything in my power to win it. There are four races left and they are all long hauls which I love. I'll be ready."

The Stevenage-born ace also insisted that he was unfazed by the FIA International Court of Appeal hearing into his 25-second, Belgian Grand Prix chicane-cutting penalty on Monday. Should he and McLaren-Mercedes win the appeal, Hamilton's lead over Massa would be stretched out to a more comfortable seven points with 40 remaining up for grabs.

"I'm not thinking about Paris," he urged. "It won't be a distraction. I feel like I won the race in Belgium, so I've not even bothered to think about it. What has happened has happened and I'll move on whatever the result, then I'll focus on getting more points in the next races.

"There's no driving you can do to plan for Singapore, but it will be a great experience racing on the streets again. I've never been to the city before, and I love the fact we're going back to a street circuit.

"Then it's Fuji, [and] you know what I'm like there; [in 2007] I drove quickly in both the dry and wet. Shanghai, same again. I was very quick there last year - and I know the car I have will be fantastic there this year - and then it's Brazil. We'll be quick there again.

"I would say none of them will be particularly key. In each race we're going to be attacking, and I really do feel in the next four races we'll be very strong. I can't wait."

Pressed by the Daily Telegraph about whether he now believed the championship is his to lose, Hamilton was adamant that things would not turn out the same as in 2007 when he lost the title in the very final race in Brazil, having at one stage held a 17-point margin over Kimi Raikkonen, the man who stole his glory at the last.

"When you're in the lead, perhaps," he acknowledged, "but I'm not looking at it that way. Kimi is world champion, so it is his championship to lose."

"I'm in the lead because I've made fewer mistakes," he added in an interview with BBC Sport. "You have to enter each race with heart [and] you also have to be smart, [but] I can't afford any more mistakes [after the tyre error in qualifying at Monza], definitely not.

"I really have a skill where I am able to put a previous disappointment behind me. He (Massa) is the guy I have to beat. He has a good car and is a good driver. I have to make every sacrifice in the last four races, but I honestly feel confident in my ability to win the championship."

Meanwhile, the eight-time grand prix-winner has received the backing of the sport's supremo Ecclestone as the battle for the crown reaches fever pitch over the next few weeks.

"I think the odds slightly favour Hamilton now," the 77-year-old is quoted as having said by the Daily Mirror. "I've said since the start of the season Massa would do it for Ferrari, but looking at what Hamilton is doing in all areas generally, he's the one who is more likely to win it now."