Lewis Hamilton won the penultimate Grand Prix of the season with a comfortable run from pole.
With his only possible rival, Felip Massa, second, he inched his lead to seven points with only the finale at Massa’s home track in Brazil to come.
This was a much more sensible performance by Hamilton, obviously playing it by percentage advantage now, instead of the wild and woolly driving we’ve become used to in previous outings.
In Brazil, he needs to maintain this attitude. A rush of blood to the head and a collision with another opponent leaving Massa to glide to a win or podium finish, would be more than Hamilton fans could bear.
We shall see.
Lewis Hamilton secured pole position in today’s qualifying for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, the penultimate of the season.
His only rival for the title, Felipe Massa, was third. Hamilton needs to beat him by six points to win the championship in Shanghai. A trip to Massa’s home territory, Brazil, for the final showdown would possibly be a spinetingler too far for the edgy Englishman.
After a disappointing first lap Hamilton’s second was immaculate as he lapped in 1m 36.203s. He led outgoing world champion, Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen for pole position by 0.342s.
“I came here in a good frame of mind,” Hamilton said. “And we’ve been competitive all weekend. I lost a lot of time on my first qualifying run, following a big oversteer moment at turn eight, but my second felt almost perfect.”
If Hamilton succeeds, it will be 50 years to the day since Mike Hawthorn became Britain’s first world champion by taking second place in the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix in Casablanca.
How they will start on the grid:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1min 36.303secs
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:36.645
3 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:36.889
4 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:36.927
5 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren 1:36.930
6 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:37.083
7 Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:37.201
8 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.685
9 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:37.934
10 Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:38.885
11 Nelson Piquet Jr. (Bra) Renault 1:35.722
12 Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:35.814
13 Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 1:35.937
14 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Honda 1:36.079
15 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams 1:36.210
16 David Coulthard (Gbr) Red Bull 1:36.731
17 Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams 1:36.863
18 Jenson Button (Gbr) Honda 1:37.053
19 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:37.730
20 Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India 1:37.739