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Hamilton vows to stay 'squeaky clean'
Alan Baldwin | September 12, 2008 12:27 IST
Last Updated: September 12, 2008 12:34 IST
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] promised on Thursday to stay "squeaky clean" for the rest of the Formula One season after being stripped of victory in Belgium last weekend.
The championship leader, punished by stewards in Spa for cutting a chicane while duelling with Ferrari's [Images] Kimi Raikkonen [Images] in a thrilling finale to that race, arrived at the Italian Grand Prix in fighting form.
The Briton said he looked forward to beating Ferrari in their own backyard at Monza, played down the challenge of Brazilian title rival Felipe Massa [Images] and even questioned world champion Raikkonen's bravery.
Above all, he made clear that he intended to leave no room for argument in the remaining five races.
"Everyone in the team feels like we won the race (in Belgium) on moral grounds," the 23-year-old, sounding relaxed and assured as ever, told reporters.
"We just have to try our best to stay squeaky clean and stay out of trouble for the rest of the season," added the driver, who left Spa in a state of some disbelief after his fifth punishment in 13 races.
Hamilton said Massa, winner of five races and now just two points behind pending an appeal into the Spa result, was the one "on the back foot.
"He is the one who has to work damn hard to keep up with me," he said. "I feel like I'm coming here off a win, and moving onto the next race."
The Briton was dismissive of a suggestion that Raikkonen was struggling for grip at Spa, preventing him from fully regaining his lead on the straight after the chicane and forcing him to brake earlier into the first corner of the penultimate lap where Hamilton went back in front.
"That's his driving. That's the way he drives. If you don't have the balls to brake late, that's your problem," said Hamilton.
Hamilton recognised a groundswell of support in England [Images], where outraged fans and the media have been vocal in their condemnation of the stewards' decision, but said he was still in control of his own destiny.
"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," he said.
"I feel great. 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."
Hamilton defended his spirited approach to racing, saying he would continue to try to overtake and entertain whenever possible.
"I'm a racer, I do the best job I can on the track and I race my heart off," he said.
"There's no-one that puts more heart into it than me. And I really felt in that last race that's what I did and I am just going to make sure that I keep on doing that and showing people what I can do.
"I don't think anyone can take that away from me."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage
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