SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has vowed to “give it everything” in his pursuit of a fourth Formula One drivers’ title, which slipped further from his grasp following a third-place finish in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The Briton’s title hopes were dealt a crushing blow a week ago when he was forced to retire with a fiery engine failure from the lead in Malaysia.
He went into Sunday’s race hoping to revive his flagging championship prospects, but a botched start scuppered his efforts.
Hamilton’s championship-leading Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg completed a ninth win of the season to extend his advantage in the standings to 33 points.
“That’s a healthy margin for Nico, he did a great job, so congrats to him,” said Hamilton, who fought his way back through the field with some spectacular overtaking after his slow getaway from second on the grid saw him plummet to eighth.
“I’ll give it everything I’ve got, as I did in the race and we’ll see what happens.”
Hamilton is a formidable competitor who thrives on adversity and converted a 43-point deficit to Rosberg early in the season into a 19-point advantage with a streak of six wins from seven races.
Even his best, however, may not be enough.
Only four of a record 21 races remain and Rosberg can take the title even if he does not win again, leaving Hamilton’s own hopes pinned on misfortune striking the German’s campaign.
Much will also depend on whether Hamilton can bounce back from his setbacks in Malaysia and Japan.
He cut a withdrawn and distracted figure in Suzuka and refused to answer questions from the press after qualifying, which some interpreted as a sign that the pressure of the title fight was starting to get to him.
But his team boss Toto Wolff had no doubt that the Briton would regroup before the next race in Austin, Texas, where he sealed the title last year with three rounds to spare.
“Lewis functions best when he’s under pressure and when he has a target,” said the Austrian.
“I have no doubt that this will be an intense fight to the end. This is far from over.”
Editing by Toby Davis