No surprise in Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton has won the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix to extend his world championship lead to seven points.

Lewis Hamilton of Britain takes his McLaren Mercedes in for a pitstop during the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008.  Lewis Hamilton of Britain won the Chinese Grand Prix but was denied the world championship by title rival Felipe Massa, who finished second.           AFP PHOTO / POOL *** Local Caption ***  516423-01-08.jpg
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Lewis Hamilton roared to a convincing victory at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai to leave himself in a strong position to take the world championship at the final round in Brazil. The McLaren-Mercedes driver claimed his fifth win of the season in Shanghai to extend his lead over championship rival Felipe Massa to seven points with a maximum of 10 left to race for in Sao Paolo. Massa inherited second from his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages after the Finn dutifully moved over to boost the Brazilian's hopes. But it was Hamilton's day and a fifth place finish in Interlagos on Nov 2 would be enough to give him his maiden title. He will be confident of achieving that after taking the hat-trick of pole position, fastest lap and the race triumph. There was no repeat of the hesitant start in Japan a week earlier as he successfully went into the lead at the start, immediately opening up a small gap on Raikkonen. The Finn was able to stay within four seconds of Hamilton in the opening laps, but Massa couldn't keep up with the lead pair as he dropped up to half-a-second a lap. Raikkonen lost ground in the first round of pit-stops and then was held up by Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella as he fell nine seconds behind Hamilton. But the world champion was still clear of Massa, who seemed to be struggling on the softer compound of tyres. With Hamilton comfortably ahead after the final round of pit-stops, Raikkonen slowed on the long straight at the back of the circuit on lap 49 to allow Massa through for two extra points, which could still prove critical in Brazil, with the Finn settling for third place.

gcaygill@thenational.ae