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Hamilton inches closer to F1 title
October 19, 2008 14:42 IST
Last Updated: October 19, 2008 15:11 IST
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton [Images] put himself on the brink of the Formula One world title with a nerveless pole to flag victory at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Felipe Massa [Images] kept the championship alive with second place after his Ferrari [Images] team mate Kimi Raikkonen [Images] let him pass but Hamilton just needs to finish in the top five in Brazil [Images] on November 2 to become the sport's youngest champion at the age of 23.
Robert Kubica's [Images] slim hopes of winning the title disappeared despite the Pole making a sterling effort to get his BMW-Sauber up from 11th on the grid to sixth at the finish.
Hamilton's fifth win of the season, and ninth of his 34 race career, gave the Briton 94 points with Massa seven behind and Kubica third with 75. Just 10 points remain on the line at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit.
Hamilton had been subjected to barrage of criticism after a wild getaway from pole position and clumsy attempt to retake the lead from Raikkonen at Fuji last weekend.
There were no mistakes on Sunday, and no repeat of the Shanghai nightmare of last season when the rookie skidded off into the gravel at the pit lane entry in a race that could also have handed him the title.
Hamilton made a clean start, sweeping into the first corner and keeping Raikkonen well behind before wrapping up a day of domination with the fastest lap.
Twice world champion Alonso, who won the last two races, quickly regained fourth place from Kovalainen and held it to the finish.
Hamilton, meanwhile, never looked back and was nearly seven seconds clear of Raikkonen after the first round of pit stops.
By the time of his second stop, he had built up a sufficient advantage to comfortably return to the track with his lead intact and he crossed the line nearly 15 seconds ahead of Massa.
Brazilian Massa had been running third a substantial distance behind Raikkonen but the world champion slowed to let his team mate past seven laps from the end.
Kubica's German team mate Nick Heidfeld [Images] was fifth, his compatriot Timo Glock seventh for Toyota and Renault's Brazilian Nelson Piquet claimed the last point in eighth.
Kovalainen's 27th birthday was ruined by a run onto the grass on lap 35 which resulted in puncture to his front right tyre and he retired in the pits a few laps later.
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1:31:57.403
(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton, 1:36.325, lap 13.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage
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