Suzuka, Japan: Lewis Hamilton said on Thursday he will be ready for a fightback from teammate Nico Rosberg at the Japanese Grand Prix after the German lost first place in the Formula One rankings.
The British former champion said his Mercedes rival is too good to take his retirement from the Singapore Grand Prix lying down. Hamilton won to take a three point lead in the drivers' championship.
"Nico is such a strong competitor. Since we were young kids he's always been strong mentally, confident and sure of his abilities. He's shown time and time again his pace, his speed, and he's also shown how quickly he can overcome things.
"I think he handled the last race with dignity. He was positive, it felt -- at least from what I could see -- like he moved on very quickly so I anticipate he'll be here and stronger than ever so I need to be ready for that."
Hamilton added that he would not change his own approach to the next race at Suzuka, even though he is now ahead.
"It doesn't change anything for me," he said. "I'm still here to do the same job, I feel like we're both chasing that title so I don't think anything needs to change."
Rosberg told reporters the Singapore retirement was "just a tough moment, but time is the best cure for such things and there's been two weeks which is plenty of time in the racing world.
"For me it's completely forgotten. Now I'm here I'm just as optimistic and excited as I was before Singapore, and I'm just looking forward to it because I'm in Suzuka.
"I've never come to Suzuka - which is one of the best tracks of the year - with the best, dominant car.
"I've never had that before, so I'm coming here, I know I'll have a chance for pole on Saturday and a chance to win the race on Sunday. That's just a great feeling and that's it, that's just my state of mind at the moment."
He added that he had no concerns about Mercedes' reliability. "We mustn't now see this as a big problem for us as a team," he said. "It's a problem that we have, but the big picture is the absolutely spectacular job that the team has done. Full stop.
"I'm not worried about reliability, I have this inner trust that the team is going to get the job done and so it's not something that I really think about at all," said the German.