Lewis Hamilton has vowed to ‘fight back’ over the season’s five remaining races after his disappointment at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Briton flew to Japan on Monday having been forced to retire 15 laps from the end of the race at Sepang with an engine failure.
The result leaves Hamilton 23 points behind Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings.
‘Of course, last weekend was a massive disappointment,’ said Hamilton. ‘But there’s no use dwelling on these things. That’s just negative energy.
‘All we can do is focus on the next race, taking things one step at a time and doing the best job we can.
‘There’s no substitute for hard work and I’ve never been afraid of that.’ Hamilton criticised his team in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s race, questioning why, of the eight Mercedes-powered cars on the grid, only his had suffered such consistent failures this season.
‘The guys are hurting from what happened and I know they’ll be working just as hard to get things right next time,’ said Hamilton.
‘It’s not the lowest point I’ve had. There have been lower moments for sure.
‘Regardless, I will find strength from within to fight back over these next five race weekends.
The first of those comes at Suzuka where Hamilton has his sights set on a hat-trick after victories in the last two years.
‘If I can perform like I did last weekend and the car holds together, then good things can still come my way,’ he said.
‘I love the Suzuka circuit and I’ve been quick there for the past two years, so hopefully that trend will continue.’ Rosberg too looked set for a disappointing result in Malaysia after a turn one spin relegated him to 21st.
But the German staged a fine recovery to take the final podium spot and extend his advantage over Hamilton.
‘I feel for Lewis, as I’ve been there myself and it sucks big time to have all those points taken away from you just like that,’ said Rosberg.
‘Of course, the result in Malaysia went in my favour in the title battle. That’s a fact and I cannot pretend otherwise.
‘But I haven’t been thinking about the points situation all season and I’m not going to start now.
Rosberg has never won in Japan, finishing second behind Hamilton for the last two seasons.
‘I’m here to win races and that’s the aim every time,’ he said. ‘Suzuka is the next opportunity and I’d love to stand on top of the podium.
‘I need to improve on my last performances there, where it hasn’t ever really come together. But I think I’ve shown this season that I’ve learned a lot from the past two years, so I’m confident I can get on top of this challenge.’ ENDS