Nico Rosberg insists Lewis Hamilton remains as 'motivated and focused' as ever behind the scenes as he dismissed the assertion he is 'self-destructing' in their battle for the 2016 Formula 1 world title.
A fourth win in five races for Rosberg at the Japanese Grand Prix has seen him open up a 33 point margin over Mercedes counterpart Hamilton with four races of the season remaining.
Rosberg's peerless Suzuka weekend comes amidst trials and tribulations for Hamilton on and off track, namely the engine failure that scuppered his hopes in Malaysia, his poor start in Japan and fracas with sections of the media after he was criticised for his use of social media during Thursday's press conference.
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Nevertheless, they are distractions that Rosberg doesn't feel are a factor in Hamilton's form, insisting he is 'working the longest hours I have seen him'.
“I don't know what is going on, but I can tell you that behind the scenes he's been as focused as ever, which he always is and especially after a setback like Malaysia. He was working the longest hours I have seen him work in many months trying to get the little extra bit of lap time. I've seen him extremely motivated and focused.
“I haven't seen any 'self-destruction' and the Lewis I saw was massively motivated and focused. I don't see Lewis' media, I know what I'm doing on a race weekend and after…”
Potentially significantly, Hamilton can no longer rely on winning the final four races to win the world title, with a quartet of second place finishes for Rosberg still enough to keep him ahead of his team-mate at the season's end.
POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Japanese Grand Prix
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