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Page last updated at 09:00 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 10:00 UK
Chinese Grand Prix
Shanghai, 17-19 October

By Andrew Benson

Lewis Hamilton celebrates victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, which puts him on the verge of the world title
Hamilton tastes the spoils of a victory that puts him on the brink of the title

Lewis Hamilton has moved to the brink of the world title with a commanding victory in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver dominated the race at Shanghai while his title rival Felipe Massa was handed second place by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Brazilian had run third for most of the event, unable to stay on terms with Hamilton or Raikkonen ahead of him.

Hamilton takes a seven-point lead over Massa into the season finale in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 2 November.

With a maximum of 10 points available, the 23-year-old Englishman will be a strong favourite to become the youngest champion in F1 history at Interlagos.

Just as importantly, Hamilton's margin is large enough that he will win the title in Brazil as long as he finishes fifth or higher.

"This is another step towards the championship, my dream and the team's dream," said Hamilton.

"We didn't want to go out and win everything in this race but to look to the two races. [This victory] was quite straightforward but it will be tough in Brazil with Ferrari pushing hard."

The third man who entered the Chinese race in the championship reckoning, BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, is out of the running after finishing sixth.

After my second stop we were pretty much cruising and I knew I just had to keep my head and keep calm and it wasn't tough at all

Lewis Hamilton

Renault's Fernando Alonso was fourth, unable to stay with the Ferraris, but well clear of everyone else.

Nick Heidfeld of BMW took fifth after McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen suffered a puncture with 20 laps to go, with Toyota's Timo Glock and Renault's Nelson Piquet taking the final points positions in seventh and eighth.

Hamilton had been under pressure all weekend in China in the wake of a dramatic race in Japan last week, and his driving tactics have been criticised by some of his peers.

But he was unflustered on his way to one of his most commanding victories, in an uneventful race that was a stark contrast to events in Fuji.

There, Hamilton earned himself a penalty for a wild move at the first corner after messing up his start, tangled with Massa on the second lap and finished out of the points in 12th.

Kimi Raikkonen leads Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa during the Chinese Grand Prix
Raikkonen was the fastest Ferrari man but he allowed Massa to finish second

This time, he drove the race he should have driven in Fuji, making a perfect start and leading comfortably throughout the race apart from during the first pit-stop period.

"It was a great start, probably one of the best we've had which we needed," the Englishman said. "I took it quite easy through the first corners and then started to increase the gap.

"After my second stop we were pretty much cruising and I knew I just had to keep my head and keep calm and it wasn't tough at all."

Hamilton's main rival throughout the race was Raikkonen, but the McLaren built a four-second lead before they both made their first pit stops on lap 15.

Hamilton extended his advantage to 6.6secs by the time the field settled down after the pit-stop period.

And although Raikkonen nibbled at Hamilton's lead at times through the middle period of the race, the McLaren always appeared to be in control.

Hamilton was eight seconds in front by the time of the second pit-stop period, after which Raikkonen slowed and allowed his team-mate to take second place at the end of the back on lap 49.

I had nothing to lose - or win - so I'm driving for the team

Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari driver

Team orders are forbidden under FIA - the sport's governing body - rules but Raikkonen said he no qualms about doing whatever was necessary to help Ferrari, even though Massa was largely unable to match his pace throughout the race.

"I had nothing to lose - or win - so I'm driving for the team," said the Finn, whose title defence came to an end in Japan last week.

"I know what we want as a team and that's what we did. It's normal in those situations."

Massa kept alive his hopes of capturing the world title in front of his home fans in Brazil but was left frustrated by his inability to challenge Hamilton in Shanghai.

"I am fighting McLaren and it was not a fantastic result for the drivers' championship," he said.

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"We were driving on the limit trying to reduce the gap but it was not possible. Lewis had a better car the whole weekend.

"I was strong enough to catch and pass [Raikkonen] and that was the best part of the race for me - but it was not enough."

Result of the Chinese Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes
2 Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 14.9 seconds behind
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari at 16.4secs
4 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault at 18.3secs
5 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber at 28.9secs
6 Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber at 33.2secs
7 Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota at 41.7secs
8 Nelson Piquet (Brz) Renault at 56.6secs
9 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari at 1:04.3
10 David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault at 1:14.5
11 Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda at 1:25.0
12 Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota at 1:30.8
13 Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari at 1:31.4
14 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault at 1:32.4
15 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota one lap behind
16 Jenson Button (GB) Honda at one lap behind
17 Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari at one lap
R Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 49 laps completed
R Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 13 laps completed
R Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota two laps completed

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