Lewis Hamilton has found an unlikely ally in Nico Rosberg after his long-term rival backed him to bounce back from his recent troubles.

Hamilton, 33, is without a victory from the opening three rounds, and was worryingly off the pace of the front-runners in China.

The defending champion appeared at a loss to explain his sluggish form and will seek answers from his team when he heads to Mercedes' Northamptonshire base in Brackley on Thursday.

Hamilton was set to fall further behind rival Sebastian Vettel before Max Verstappen collided with the championship leader in a dramatic finale to Sunday's race.

"Lewis was struggling all weekend in China and doesn't understand why," Rosberg, who beat Hamilton to the 2016 title, said.

"It is a typical phase for Lewis, in when it does not go perfectly for him he loses that edge, a touch of motivation and struggles for a while; maybe one, two or three races.

"As a championship opponent you have to maximise on those races and Sebastian failed to do that so it is a big setback for him as Lewis always comes back.

"And when he does come back he is so strong he is almost unbeatable."