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.