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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Has Hamilton blown his chance?
Lewis Hamilton's hopes of clinching the Formula One world title at the Chinese Grand Prix were dashed when drove off the track because of worn tyres.

The Englishman is now only four points ahead of his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard finished second to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in Shanghai.

Raikkonen, the form man in the second half of the season, is also in with a shout - the Finn is seven points behind Hamilton following his fifth win of the year.

Four British F1 legends assess the events in China and what might happen in Brazil on 22 October.

JOHN WATSON - FIVE-TIME GRAND PRIX WINNER

"What happened was inexperience and a lack of maturity. Experience is something you cannot buy. It comes through years and years.

John Watson
Alonso will be putting pressure on Lewis to get inside his brain and try to destabilise him

John Watson (above)

"Lewis is a very bright young man. He is probably the brightest young man in Formula One. He will take it on board. He knows what he did. He knows the penalty he's paid.

"He ought to have walked away from China today as the world champion. It was there in his grasp. He didn't have to beat anybody. He only had to finish.

"I didn't anticipate this happening. It showed that anything is possible.

"Brazil is a different race track. Alonso knows that race track. He won the world championship there at the final round last year.

"He will be putting pressure on Lewis. He will be doing the old Chinese water torture to get inside his brain and work on him and try to destabilise him, but Lewis has got such a strong head that I don't think Alonso will succeed.

606: DEBATE
Ferraridream

"The way Lewis has handled this season has been mesmerising. I've not seen anybody in the history of motorsport achieve so much so quickly.

"Aside from his ability in the car, it's the way he deals with the external pressures. Everywhere he goes, he has people following him. At 22 years of age, how do you handle that?

DAMON HILL - 1996 WORLD CHAMPION

"My instant reaction was total disbelief and, of course like [McLaren boss] Ron Dennis, I was almost willing someone to push him out of the gravel trap. But the rules are pretty clear that he was stuck there and it was all over.

"It's a big deflation, but he's bounced back and said: 'I'm still fighting.'

Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen on the podium after the Chinese Grand Prix
Alonso and Raikkonen are now right back in the title chase
"He still has the championship lead and the way he's been going you'd have to say he is still odds on to become world champion in Brazil.

"Any time you lead the world championship going into the final race you have the upper hand.

"But there is qualifying to get through and all sorts of unforeseen complications. There are two other guys in the championship hunt as well. That is going to be a pretty fearsome battle going into the final round.

"It's tremendously exciting, great for the sport. It's been a fantastic season all the way through. Great racing and the emergence of a real superstar in Lewis."

SIR STIRLING MOSS - 16-TIME GRAND PRIX WINNER

"It just means we've got to wait a couple more weeks. He deserves it and now it's gone down to the line, he deserves a bonus.

Stirling Moss
He is the greatest driver around now - probably ever

Stirling Moss (above)
"He is a remarkable person - he is the greatest driver around now, probably ever.

"In my racing lifetime that started just after the Second World War, I've never seen a driver get so far and do it so well and do it with such ease.

"If Hamilton doesn't win it I shall be terribly disappointed.

"I think he will make it, I think he'll drive as he normally does and unless something stupid happens, like a puncture or something, I'm hopeful, yes.

"The most important race as a driver is the one you race today. Last week you weren't killed, next week you could be. The only thing that matters is today's race.

"Lewis gets in that car and he races, there are no two ways about it. His preparation will not be any different for the next race, he will do exactly the same as he did in the first race - he is that brilliant.

"The good news is that even though a world title hangs on the Brazil race, I'll bet it doesn't change his outlook at all. He will just go out there and do what he can and he does it better than anyone else, let's face it."

SIR JACKIE STEWART - THREE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION

"It's disappointing and I'm sure there is no-one more disappointed than Lewis. I thought he could have stitched it up.

"I really thought he had driven very well up to that point in the race. He obviously made a little error coming into the pit lane and that is the cost of an error in the sport at that level.

Jackie Stewart
What Lewis has done this year is quite remarkable - it's fairytale stuff

Sir Jackie Stewart (above)
"I'm sure he's very upset about it, but he is still in the lead of the world championship.

"It brings a lot of focus onto the final race of the year, the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paolo.

"Obviously Fernando Alonso has won the title before and has considerable experience - he won the title in similar circumstances in Brazil last year.

"Then again, Kimi Raikkonen is a contender as well, so it does liven up the world championship considerably.

"I still think Lewis will win the title. At the beginning of the season I thought he could win it but thought it was unlikely as it's very difficult for a 22-year-old rookie just to come in and win it in his first season.

"But with the speed that he's shown and because he's with a very good McLaren team, I thought it could happen one way or another.

"Now what Lewis has done this year is quite remarkable. He has won four Grands Prix and he is hopefully about to be world champion in his first season. It's really fairytale stuff.

"Lewis has got the ability and McLaren have the car. Sao Paolo is a different racetrack, it's quite bumpy and quite difficult. Until we get there we won't know whether it's McLaren or Ferrari who have the advantage."



SEE ALSO
Hamilton error keeps title alive
07 Oct 07 |  Formula One
Hamilton exit our fault - McLaren
07 Oct 07 |  Formula One
Hamilton still favourite - Alonso
07 Oct 07 |  Formula One
Chinese Grand Prix photos
07 Oct 07 |  Formula One
Chinese GP as it happened
07 Oct 07 |  Formula One


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