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Hamilton on pole for Chinese Grand Prix

October 18, 2008 13:22 IST

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] gave his Formula One title hopes a huge boost when he took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday with his main rival Felipe Massa [Images] of Ferrari [Images] qualifying third.

The 23-year-old Briton, who could become Formula One's youngest world champion if he wins Sunday's penultimate race of the season and Massa finishes fifth or worse, will line up alongside world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] on the front row.

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica [Images], the third driver still in the title race albeit 12 points behind Hamilton, scraped into the second qualifying session but failed to reach the final shootout and will start 11th on the grid.

The Pole, who has been complaining about a lack of balance in his car all weekend, had a good morning practice with the third best time behind team mate Nick Heidfeld [Images] and Hamilton but his troubles returned when it mattered.

The first two rows of the grid will be exactly the same as last season in Shanghai with Renault's Fernando Alonso [Images] qualifying fourth.

Last year, Hamilton just needed to beat his championship rivals to win the title but failed to finish the race after skidding off at the pitlane entry.

The front row in Shanghai will also be a repeat of last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, where Hamilton failed to score any points after a wild start that earned him a drive-through penalty.

Saturday's pole position was Hamilton's seventh of the season and 13th in 34 races.

Red Bull's Mark Webber [Images] pulled off the track with his car on fire during the morning's final practice and suffered a 10-place penalty for replacing the engine. That relegated the Australian from sixth to 16th.

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