LONDON • Lewis Hamilton is bracing himself for a fightback from his only realistic world championship rival - Nico Rosberg, his team-mate.
The British Mercedes driver has had the better of their encounters this season and is 53 points clear of Rosberg as Formula One embarks on the most arduous series of races, starting in Singapore this weekend.
Rosberg took his Mercedes team-mate to the final race of last season but he has little chance of repeating that unless he can start getting wins on the board.
The German is acutely aware of his shortcomings so far this year and is targeting the longest race of the season to start his comeback after a disastrous Italian Grand Prix where his car failed him at Monza.
"Obviously, Monza didn't go to plan," Rosberg said. "It was gutting to miss out on a good result so close to the end but now I approach the final seven races with the attitude that there's nothing to lose. It's maximum attack and I won't be giving up the fight - no way.
"Singapore is one of my favourite races, so that's a good place to start. It's so tough on everyone - physically and mentally - and I love that challenge.
"I was only a few thousandths off pole last year and feeling good for the race until a problem with the steering wheel ended my weekend. I know I've got the pace to win there, so I'm hoping for a clean weekend and a chance to unleash this silver beast under the lights."
In contrast to Rosberg's focus, Hamilton has been partying the last few days, pictured at red carpet events and singing on a nightclub stage in the United States.
His jet-setting life does not appear to have affected his performances, though, winning every pole position but one this season and taking what many believe was his most overwhelming victory in Monza.
"Monza was an awesome weekend for me - one of the best I've had in Formula One," Hamilton said. "The car this team has built is just incredible and I can't thank them enough for all their hard work. Of course, it was a shame for Nico and the crew to have the retirement, but I know he'll bounce back and I'm looking forward to another battle in Singapore.
"This race is always a highlight of the season, a great city which looks really spectacular under the lights with the tricky street circuit below - my favourite kind of track to drive. You have to stay 100 per cent focused for a full two hours, which is tougher than it sounds with the crazy humidity.
"Any small slip and you're in the barrier, so maintaining that total concentration is crucial.
"I have won there twice now, both times from pole, which shows you how important qualifying is too. It won't be easy to make it three, far from it. But I'm riding high right now and I'll be pushing for that hat-trick."
THE TIMES, LONDON