SPA, Belgium (AP) — Lewis Hamilton is in bullish mood as he prepares to stamp his authority on the Formula One championship race.
Hamilton is looking to win the F1 driver's title for the second time. But standing in the way is his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who is 11 points ahead of him heading into Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
Relations between the two drivers became increasingly strained before the summer break, with Hamilton ignoring team orders telling him to let the German pass him at last month's Hungarian GP.
Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion, is adamant he can mount a successful title charge after overcoming significant setbacks so far this season.
"I feel if I keep my head down like a bull, nothing can really stand in the way of a bull," Hamilton said. "I hope that will be me on Sunday. But there is my teammate and I am sure he wants to be the wall that gets in the way."
Although both drivers have tried to play down the tensions, Hamilton acknowledged that the rivalry has given the sport a much-needed boost after Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel's crushing dominance last year.
"I can understand that the fans like it. It's an interesting scenario to watch," he said. "I sure don't want to finish second and be known as a nice guy. I want to win."
Hamilton has coped remarkably well with technical problems blighting his Mercedes in qualifying. He finished third after starting from 22nd on the grid in Hungary; third from 20th at the German GP; second from ninth in Austria and won the British GP starting from sixth.
"Nico has had a kind of smoother road, while I've had a bumpier road," Hamilton said. "I am in shooting distance even though I had all those issues."
The biggest issue was whether to let Rosberg pass in Hungary. The order irked Hamilton, because in his eyes it is the antithesis to competition.
"There are different views on what is a team player. When it means waving your teammate through, that for sure is not," Hamilton said. "I am not hiding anything from Nico. He has all my data. I never, never ever have asked my guys, 'Don't show that to Nico.' Actually I want him to be at his best, because it is more painful when you are at your best and getting beat."
Hamilton has found it hard to keep his emotions in check this season. He was visibly upset during the Monaco GP in May, when Rosberg's surprising late crash in qualifying led to the session being halted and denied him a near-certain pole position.
"When I get out of the car I am like a fizzy lemonade bottle," Hamilton said. "When you're in the car you're shaken around, then you get out and take the lid off, it's everywhere. It's hard to keep the lid on."
Still, he thinks the rivalry with Rosberg is tame compared to what happened before, when standup rows were commonplace.
"You could call somebody an idiot and didn't have to go back and say sorry," Hamilton said. "You have to be more correct now and it is so difficult when it is such a fine line between right and wrong."