"We had the same amount of grip, so it was the way he drives. If you don't have the balls to brake late in those conditions, that's his problem. I felt there was more grip than he did, and I found it."
Lewis Hamilton did not sound remotely dispirited as he threw down the gauntlet to his Finnish rival Kimi Raikkonen here yesterday, and a little bit of sporting hyperbole did not go amiss as the "Spa Affair" continued to dominate the build up to Sunday's Italian Grand Prix here.
While the Englishman was showing his mettle in the face of an adversity that has stirred the anger of fans across the globe, one of the stewards who made the decision to demote him from first to third place in last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix demonstrated less self-control. It was recommended last year that Surinder Thathi, who represents Kenya on the ruling FIA World Council, should not be chosen again as a steward. "I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but then I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally. The British press hates me, but I can walk into any Italian restaurant... Italians love me."
The general feeling in Formula One circles is that Hamilton was mugged by a decision that was at odds with the race director Charlie Whiting's radio confirmation to McLaren, Hamilton's team, prior to the end of the race that their driver did not have to do anything further, having allowed Raikkonen to repass him after he had cut a chicane.
"F1 has been really exciting in the last couple of years because it is so close and overtaking is very difficult," Hamilton said. "I can overtake, I have shown that it can be done. If we are just driving round without any overtaking it would be bor... not be as exciting. If there is no overtaking, what's the point? It wouldn't be a race, it would be a train. I learnt overtaking early on, fighting my way up from the back of the grid, it's how I was brought up. I'm one of the best at doing it."
Asked what he should have done to make it obvious that he was ceding the position to Raikkonen, he replied, tongue-in-cheek: "Maybe I should have made a lap difference when I gave up the place, I don't know!
"We are in a strong position, we have a great car and we are going to keep on down the same route. I feel like I came away from Spa with the win and I am moving into this race feeling like I have momentum behind me. I am not at all disheartened. I know I can win this weekend."
But Hamilton denies feeling vengeful. "I never feel the need for revenge," he said. "It has been a great season battling with Ferrari, it's a pleasure. They are a great team, and it will come down to who does the better job. It will be great to win and beat them on their home turf, like we did last year."