Lewis Hamilton's Malaysian Grand Prix ambitions went up in smoke on Sunday. Picture: CL Donald Lim / AFP.

Sepang, Malaysia - Lewis Hamilton boarded a plane bound for Japan on Monday morning and had plenty of excess baggage in tow.

The Briton’s defence of his world title is in tatters after an engine failure forced him to retire 15 laps from the end of Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton hit out at his Mercedes team in the immediate aftermath, saying: “Someone needs to give me some answers because this is not acceptable.

“We are fighting for the championship and only my engines are failing. It does not sit right with me.”

He had calmed down before heading further east aboard the private jet of Niki Lauda, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman. But he admitted feeling “helpless” after seeing a fourth weekend of the season ruined by mechanical shortcomings.

“I’ve had lower points, for sure,” said Hamilton. “But in terms of feeling helpless, it is the most helpless I can be at this point. When we had the problems in the first part of the season, you always have the feeling it is slipping through your fingers and there is nothing you can do about it.

“Then we had a splurge of good results and then a bunch of difficult results. This is a similar kind of feeling that I had back in Barcelona (when he and Nico Rosberg collided on lap one).”

His misery was compounded at Sepang as team-mate Rosberg staged a fine recovery to finish third. That saw the German extend his championship lead over Hamilton to 23 points with five races to go.

The first of those is at Suzuka this weekend, leaving Hamilton little time to pick himself up.

“You forget I am world champion, so I should be all right,” was Hamilton’s retort when asked about his motivation.

“I will find strength from within. If I perform like I did this weekend then, providing the car holds together, good things can come.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff sympathised with Hamilton, saying: “It’s been bad for him and the team, I am gutted in the same way.

“But he came back into the garage immediately and he went to see Bradley (Lord, director of communications), Niki, myself and every single mechanic to say how he felt.

“Afterwards we had a discussion in a small group and we were all really down from the incident. Then we regrouped... he said some great things about the team and hopefully that is going to help us recover from Japan.”

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