Suzuka, Japan (AFP) - Nico Rosberg is bracing himself for a backlash from wounded Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton after seizing the initiative in the Formula One title race.
Hamilton, the reigning world champion, looked to be cruising to victory in Malaysia last weekend before his engine blew up as Rosberg's battling third-place finish allowed the German to open a 23-point lead with five races left.
Rosberg, whose feud with Hamilton has threatened to boil over in previous years, predicted on Thursday that Hamilton would come back strong in the championship run-in.
"I don't draw encouragement from (Hamilton's troubles)," insisted Rosberg, who threw away a 43-point advantage earlier this season.
"I don't really think too much about Lewis' misfortune, I think more about my situation.
"Anyways I know that Lewis, when he has difficulties like that, will come back fully-motivated," he added ahead of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. "So it's not really encouraging to know that he's going to come back as strong as ever."