Formula 1 World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he is 'already getting over' a massively disappointing and frustrating Japanese Grand Prix this weekend that saw him collide with title rival Felipe Massa and fail to score for the first time in eight outings.

The result - twelfth place at the chequered flag - means the McLaren-Mercedes star heads into the final two grands prix of the 2008 campaign with a reduced five-point advantage over Massa at the top of the drivers' table, and incredibly with no victory to his name since Hockenheim back in July, his Spa-Francorchamps 'on-the-road' triumph excepted.

Hamilton clearly believed his return to the highest step of the podium would come this weekend, in a race he had dominated in atrocious conditions twelve months earlier, and for which he took an unchallenged pole position, with Massa back in fifth.

However, a poor start saw the 23-year-old seem to lose his head into the first corner, as he left his braking impossibly late in an effort to regain the lead, and tyre smoke peeled off his locked-up wheels as the pack was sent scattering wide in his wake.

Worse still was to follow, however, as in endeavouring to fight his way back up through the field, a golden opportunity to overtake Massa when the Ferrari ran wide ultimately turned out to be a poisoned chalice, as the Brazilian shot across the grass - and straight into the side of Hamilton's car.

That left the Briton needing to pit to both get his suspension checked out and to change his badly flat-spotted tyres, and a subsequent drive-through penalty for his first corner misdemeanour left him some way down the field. Thereafter his lap times proved to be uncompetitive - his best a full second slower than Massa's fastest effort - and points elusive.

"Obviously I'm not happy after a result like today's," the Stevenage-born ace confessed, "but I'm already getting over it and tomorrow will be another day. Disappointingly, I didn't make a great start, but I slip-streamed Kimi and went up the inside.

"I braked a bit late - but so did everybody. A lot of cars went wide at turn one - and I just went a bit wider than everyone else - but you can't undo the penalty or change today's result. On lap two Felipe went wide and I went up the inside, giving him room, but he tapped me quite hard into a spin.

"There are positives to take from today; I've only lost two points to Felipe in the drivers' championship, so it's definitely not over. Now I'll forget today ever happened and move forward; we've got two more races to go and my target is still to win both of them."

Next on the F1 schedule is the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai in just seven days' time, and though it is a race in which last year Hamilton went off whilst fighting for a win he didn't need, he has insisted that his victory objective remains unchanged [see separate story - click here].

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis acknowledged that the outcome in Fuji - compounded by Heikki Kovalainen's retirement when the Finn had looked odds-on for the top step of the rostrum - had been 'disappointing', but vowed that the 'whole team will dig deep from hereon in'.

"Today was a very challenging day," the 61-year-old acknowledged. "We were a bit surprised that Lewis was given a penalty in respect of the first corner incident, simply because we've all seen similar first corner incidents that triggered no such penalty. Drivers miss braking points, they run wide - these things happen.

"All-in-all, as far as the championship is concerned I guess things could have been worse, but there's no getting away from the fact that it was a disappointing weekend. However, Lewis is still five points clear in the drivers' championship with two races to go, and I know that our whole team will dig deep from here on in."

"A chaotic start and one lap later Felipe ruined Lewis' race when he first ran wide and then cut the chicane short and pushed Lewis into a spin," added Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, "[but] neither Felipe nor Ferrari benefited too much from today's result."