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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 09:55 UK
Singapore Grand Prix
Singapore, 26-28 September



Lewis Hamilton on the podium after the Singapore Grand Prix
Hamilton extended his championship lead despite finishing third

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton says he feels comfortable heading into the final three races of the Formula One season with a seven-point championship lead.

The Englishman extended his lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa by six points with third in the Singapore Grand Prix, while the Brazilian failed to score.

"A podium is a great result. I'm quite happy with seven points," he said.

Hamilton can afford to finish second behind Massa in all the three remaining Grands Prix and still win the title.

But the 23-year-old said he would not let that stop him trying to win the races in Japan, China and Brazil.

"We're going to approach the next few races exactly the same as we have this one," he said.

"I have no doubts we have a competitive package to compete with them but without a doubt it will be a very tough battle.

"It's all about scoring points. We came here with a one-point lead and I could see the Ferraris were very competitive this weekend and Felipe was driving well, so I knew it would be very tough to beat them.

"But fortunately the race had a couple of incidents which didn't benefit them but we did a solid job and came back with the points.

We could have been ahead because we had a fantastic pace and we could have been first and second

Ferrari's Felipe Massa

"So moving forward, we definitely can't get ahead of ourselves because, as you can see, lots of things can happen.

"So we will just focus on doing a solid job, scoring more points hopefully."

Hamilton found himself third, right behind Williams driver Nico Rosberg, in the closing laps of an incident-packed race won by Renault's Fernando Alonso, but decided not to try to challenge for second.

"Nico was driving very well, wasn't making any mistakes and so unless I made a stupid manoeuvre - which was just unnecessary - there was no point really," he said.

"So I was just trying to keep with him and then with three laps to go it was clear I wasn't going to be able to overtake him, so I just brought it home."

Massa, who started the race a point behind Hamilton had looked poised to take the lead of the championship as he pulled away from the McLaren in the lead during the early laps of the Singapore event.

But a bungled pit stop wrecked his hopes - the Brazilian was given a go signal while the fuel hose was still attached and he drove down the pit lane with it still on his car, sending one of his pit crew flying.

"The green light was on and I drove away," explained Massa.

"The only problem was a human problem and the green light came at the wrong moment."

Massa ground to a halt at the end of the pit lane and his Ferrari crew eventually managed to wrestle the fuel hose free - but too late for the Brazilian to rescue his race and he finished down in 13th.

"We could have been ahead (in the title race) because we had a fantastic pace and we could have finished first and second," he said.

"But racing is racing. We're all human beings and everyone can make a mistake.

"I am not the kind of guy who goes to the guy (who made the mistake) and fights with him, because we need him, we need everyone together for the last three races.

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa drove away from the pits with the fuel hose attached

"There are 30 points to be won and we have a quick car so that's the most important thing."

Hamilton said he had not been aware of Massa's problems.

"I didn't really know Felipe was out of the points. I didn't really focus on it - I just focused on my race and scoring those points."

A miserable race for Ferrari was completed when Kimi Raikkonen crashed out from fifth place with three laps remaining.

The Finn is 27 points behind Hamilton and effectively out of the championship reckoning.

Raikkonen admitted as much after the race and hinted he would help Massa's title bid if asked.

I know what the team wants - they want to win the world championship," he said.

"I'm trying to win races, too, and we will see what happens. I'm out of the championship anyhow."

606: DEBATE
pokygaz

Massa's problem came two races after a similar incident involving Raikkonen, and Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted his team were making too many mistakes.

"Historically, in the last 10 or 12 years, we have always had problems with the pit stops. I recall them very well with Eddie [Irvine], with Michael [Schumacher], with Rubens [Barrichello] - so it's not true that we have more mistakes than in the past," he said.

"Unfortunately, we shouldn't have them. That's another story. Perhaps where a situation is more tricky, and emotion is part of the team, sometimes you may consider that as a weak point that it can influence the fact that you can make a mistake."

Domenicali described the race as a "black day" for Ferrari because the "best car was last in the results".

"We will approach the last three races with the view that we can finish first and second every time because we have the potential to do it. So the target is very clear."

Domenicali said it had been a "mistake" at Massa's pit stop by the mechanic controlling the system of lights that gives the driver instructions.

The man was in tears when Massa went to console him after the race, Domenicali said.


see also
Singapore lights way to F1 future
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Alonso wins as Hamilton prospers
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore GP photos
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore Grand Prix as it happened
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Massa snatches pole from Hamilton
27 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore GP qualifying as it happened
27 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore GP build-up photos
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
F1 goes for a night on the town
25 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Alonso edges Hamilton in practice
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One
F1 supremo plans Japan night race
26 Sep 08 |  Formula One


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