Lewis Hamilton bullish about his chances at Japan GP

Lewis Hamilton insisted he can still win the Japanese Grand Prix and make it three successive race wins despite trailing Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in Saturday’s qualifying following a crash in practice.

“It was not the best of sessions,” said the Briton, who lost control and slammed into a tyre barrier on turn one, tearing off his front left wheel during the morning’s practice.

“I think it was a decent recovery considering the crash. I just overcooked it, but the team did a great job to put the car back together.”

Hamilton has wiped out a 29-point deficit thanks to victories in the last two races, and Rosberg’s retirement in Singapore two weeks ago, and now leads the standings by three points with five races left.

“I feel good,” said Hamilton defiantly after Rosberg edged him out to claim his first Japan pole.

“I just wasn’t quick enough today. I’m still second and we’ve seen races where we’ve come from further back. I wasn’t really feeling it today, I don’t know why. I am looking forward to tomorrow and all the tricky weather that will come.”

Suzuka organisers are bracing themselves for a wet race day with a typhoon forecast to bring heavy rain and high winds.

Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff predicted another frenetic duel between Hamilton and Rosberg at the high-speed Japanese circuit.

“They are competing on such a very high level they are trying to extract the maximum from the car,” he said, adding that Hamilton’s qualifying suffered from his crash in the final free practice.

“For sure, it was compromised,” he said. “It was his sector, but then he shunted the car. That was sitting at the back of his mind.”

Rosberg said he is ready for the challenge from his team-mate.

“We are as prepared as we can be,” said the German. “We are expecting it to be wet. Our last experience in the wet was at Spa where the car was very quick so I’m very optimistic, even if it rains. It could be even better.”

The two men’s explosive clash at the Belgian Grand Prix, where Hamilton accused Rosberg of deliberately colliding with him after overtaking the German at the start of the race, led to a furious row and soured an already tense relationship.