British Formula One rookie Lewis Hamilton believes he is at least as quick as his double-world champion teammate Fernando Alonso.
Speaking during preparations for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton - who has created a record for a rookie driver by finishing on the podium in each of his first five races - was in good spirits and spoke openly about how his pace compares with that of the Spaniard.
"I would definitely say I'm as quick as him (Alonso)," said Hamilton.
"And you can see in some races that I've been quicker than him in testing, quicker in qualifying. We've been very, very close."
In the wake of the British media storm following last month's Monaco Grand Prix (where Hamilton was left frustrated after being told by his McLaren team bosses to slow down and not challenge Alonso for the victory) the 22-year-old admitted that the ferocity of the reaction had surprised him.
"I was a bit surprised about how it all blew up and the disappointing thing was the effect it had on the team," he mused.
"I've got to remember the fact that I'm extremely privileged to be part of such an amazing team, I'd do anything for this team.
"I've bonded with the guys so well, they want me to win just as much I want to win for them. They can see that I'm doing a good job and I'm sure that when we win they'll be even more excited."
While Hamilton was at pains to point out his loyalty to the McLaren cause, he did indicate that he would not be happy if he were once again asked to defer to his more illustrious teammate.
"Every weekend when I'm matching the times and doing as good if not better I'm demonstrating that I've got the ability to be a champion, or at least that I deserve to be equal to him (Alonso)," he added.
Hamilton denied that he was in a similar situation to the one Brazilian Rubens Barrichello found himself in at Ferrari, where he was continually asked to play second fiddle to Michael Schumacher.
According to the young McLaren ace, if he ever thought he was seen by his team to be a lower priority to another driver he would leave the team in a hurry.
"I hate the situation that Rubens was in. If that was ever the case then I wouldn't be there for much longer," he said.
Ahead of his debut race at Montreal's Gilles Villeneuve circuit Hamilton was typically confident and though he accepted that there will be more overtaking opportunities here than there were at Monaco, he emphasised the importance of a strong qualifying performance.
"I don't plan to do any overtaking. I plan to get on the front row and go off into the distance," he said, with a glint in his eye.
"But of course it is always comforting to see that there are some long straights and plenty of opportunities to overtake."