Mercedes is to investigate the reason why Nico Rosberg's front nose component midway through the race, forcing the German to pit on lap 29 for a replacement after it had completed a lap sending up a shower of sparks into the face of his team mate Lewis Hamilton running immediately behind him on track.

"I was very aware of the sparks, but I really could not believe it," he said. "Just as I was feeling good and had really good pace in the car, the damn front wing drops and there are sparks everywhere.

"I couldn't believe what happened," he added. "I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke.

Related Articles

"It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control."

"If the wing [gets] under the car then it's massively dangerous and I can completely lose control of the car and crash straight on into the wall without braking," he explained. "So first I had to judge what the situation was and then when I understood that it wasn't too bad, I could carry some speed back to the garage."

Team principal Ross Brawn confirmed that Rosberg's car had suffered "a structural failure on the front wing assembly" apparently after running over a bumpy part of the track in order to get around Hamilton for position.

"Nico's tyres were in much better shape and he was running at the same pace as the leaders and well on course for a podium finish," before the failure said Brawn, adding that there had been no choice but to order an immediate pit stop.

As a result of the issue with the broken nose, Rosberg dropped out of contention for the podium and while he still finished in the points, seventh place was clearly not what he had been hoping for after starting from fourth pace on the grid on Sunday.

"It's a shame because the car felt great today and I found a good balance and how to get the most out of the car, which I hadn't managed until this point of the weekend," he said.

"It's been a real up and down season so far for me but it's good that we have another race in a week's time," Rosberg added. "Our car is very competitive and I had good pace compared to the cars on the podium."

Brawn agreed that the day had been "a very challenging race for the team and one which leaves us with the rather bitter taste of 'what might have been.'

"It's been a tough day and we will aim to deliver a stronger performance in Japan," he added.