Hamilton wins Chinese GP, extends title lead

Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his Formula One drivers' championship lead to seven points.

updated: October 19, 2008 09:59 IST
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Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his Formula One drivers' championship lead to seven points.

Hamilton won by 14.9 seconds from his title rival Felipe Massa of Ferrari to move to the brink of his first title, with only one race remaining in Brazil.

"It's that one step closer, but we still have a tough race ahead of us in Brazil," Hamilton said. "I'm feeling good about it. I know it's going to be a tough weekend."

The Briton also led eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen by seven points entering last season's final grand prix but finished only seventh in Brazil and surrendered the title to the Finn.

Massa moved up to second late in the race on Sunday, effortlessly passing his obliging Ferrari teammate Raikonnen. Their second and third places, combined with the retirement of McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, extended Ferrari's lead in the constructors' championship to 11 points.

BMW's Robert Kubica finished sixth, ending his slim title chances.

Hamilton and Massa are now tied for race wins and second places this season, but Hamilton has one more third placing, meaning he has the edge in countback if the pair are tied on points after the final race of the season.

Hamilton will clinch the title in Brazil unless Massa wins and the he finishes no higher than seventh, or Massa finishes second and Hamilton out of the points.

"We are in a tough position, but we know anything can happen," Massa said. "We need to keep our heads up, it's not finished yet.

"We can have a much better car in Brazil than we had here."

Renault's Fernando Alonso finished fourth, ahead of the BMW pair of Nick Heidfeld and Kubica. Toyota's Timo Glock was seventh and Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr. got the final point.

In a lap of little incident, Hamilton got off the line well from pole position and led from start to finish.

"It was a great start, one of the best we have had this year, which was needed," Hamilton said. "From there it was pretty smooth sailing.

"Throughout the weekend we knew we had the pace. On Friday we knew we had more pace."

Raikkonen was second for most of the race, before conceding that position to Massa on lap 50 of 56 to keep the Brazilian's title hopes alive.

Team orders prohibit a driver deliberately giving up track position to a teammate, but Raikkonen dropped his lap time from in the 1-minute, 38-second range to 1-minute, 40-second range for two laps as Massa caught and overtook, before stepping up his pace again.

"I am not in a position to challenge for the championship," Raikkonen said. "I know what the team expects and I am happy to try to achieve the maximum points for the team. For my season it does not make any difference."

Hamilton had no problem with Ferrari's swap.

"They're a team," Hamilton said. "I know in my position, if Heikki was leading, we'd probably do the same thing. They did a great job."

The only incident of note in a race that Massa described as "not very exciting" came at the first corner when Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Bourdais of Toro Rosso collided. Trulli retired as a result after struggling on for a lap, while Bourdais was dropped to 18th place before climbing to finish 13th.

Hamilton's win was the ninth of his career, and he set a fastest lap for the first time this season. He achieved the combination of race win, fastest lap and pole position for the second time in his career, after last year's Japanese GP.