Sepang, Malaysia: Nico Rosberg was amazed to have increased his world championship lead over Lewis Hamilton on Sunday after fearing his race was over at the first corner in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Rosberg was hit by Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari and spun 180 degrees, eventually rejoining the race in 21st place having started second on the grid.
He then roared through the field to finish third as teammate Lewis Hamilton's engine exploded when he was on course for victory with 15 laps to go.
It meant that instead of Hamilton leapfrogging Rosberg at the top of the standings, the German increased his lead from eight to 23 points over his Mercedes teammate.
"It was a tough one," said Rosberg. "After turn one I thought I was finished. I thought it was all over."
Rosberg seemed to imply it was his fellow German Vettel who had been at fault in the first corner melee, which also involved Max Verstappen.
"I just got T-boned by a four-time world champion out of control," said Rosberg, who was delighted to finish third behind the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen.
"Of course I’m happy with the comeback. To get all the way back on the podium, I definitely didn’t think that was going to be possible," said the German.
"In general I wished for a better day but that is how it is sometimes."
Rosberg and Hamilton have rarely seen eye-to-eye this season, the teammates' bitter rivalry boiling over when they crashed into each other at the Spanish Grand Prix, which Verstappen won.
The angry Englishman even hinted after the race that the German team were favouring Rosberg's side of the garage.
But Rosberg had some sympathy for his teammate.
"For Lewis, I’ve been in his position, I know how terrible it is in that moment, so I’m sure he’s totally gutted," he told reporters.