Chinese Grand-Prix: Lewis Hamilton Seals the Win In China

Adam PooleAnalyst IOctober 19, 2008

Lewis Hamilton has completed a fantastic weekend in Shanghai and drove his MP4-23 over the line in first to extend his championship lead over Massa to seven points as they head into the final race of the season.

The race won't go down in history as a vintage race, but none-the-less one that Hamilton will be happy to have under his belt after last year's misfortunes in China.  Massa and Ferrari looked to be struggling to match the pace of McLaren all weekend, and the race pace confirmed this.

Right from the start the 23-year-old had P1 covered, and a calm, collected and disciplined Lewis Hamilton drove the car to perfection, he didn't put a wheel wrong.

Detailed Race Re-cap.

A great start from LH as he secures the racing line into turn one in front of both Ferrari's, and as they go around the first corner the top five remain in the same positions.  Trulli gets a small shunt and spins off at the back of the track. 

McLaren look to be on the same sort of strategy as Ferrari at this point, with an exception to the tyres, Ferrari on soft compound and McLaren on the harder of the Bridgestone's.  A small scrap for fourth place between Kovalainen and Alonso doesn't change any positions.

Hamilton comes over the line to start lap two and already has a one second lead over Kimi Raikkonen.  Massa seems to be off the pace at the moment.  Meanwhile a disgruntled Trulli makes it back to the pit-lane without further incident.

We saw the first retirement of the race on lap four as Trulli's Toyota proves to have take too much of a hit from Bourdais as he parks it in his garage.

Hamilton continues to extend his lead and by lap five, he is almost three seconds ahead of Raikkonen.  Hamilton then sets the fastest lap of the race a 1m 36.825.

After his first corner scrape with Trulli, Bourdais seems to have got away without any problems and passes Sutil to take 17th.

Mark Webber, who was docked 10 grid places after having an engine change yesterday, is running on a very light fuel load and is up from 16th to 10th by lap seven. 

Back on the pace, and Raikkonen sets the fastest time in sector three, however, his team-mate and Lewis' number one challenger, Felipe Massa, just can't find the power in his F2008.  Heikki Kovalainen is also off the pace, and the first problems with his brakes, which started smoking on the starting grid, start to appear.

Hamilton responds to Raikkonen's pace on lap nine by setting a new fastest lap as he extends his lead over the Fin to four seconds.

The game of ping-pong fastest laps continues as Raikkonen responds to Hamilton and sets a new quickest lap, just a few hundredths of a second faster than the McLaren.

With rain and thunderstorms predicted for the race on yesterday's weather report, Race Control now confirm there is a less than 20% chance of rain during today's race.

Lap 13 and a slight bit of over-steer from Hamilton causes a slide into turn five, he controls this and holds the track well. The quickest lap of the entire race was also set on lap thirteen by race leader, Lewis Hamilton, even with the slide he goes two tenths above Raikkonen's best with a 1:36.325.

The first of the Ferrari's get ready to pit on lap 14, and it's Massa who comes through first, with Alonso hot on his tail.  Both drivers opt to stay with their current wheel compound; Massa on the soft, Alonso on the harder compound.

Lap 15 and race leader Lewis Hamilton comes into the pit, with Kimi following him in, Lewis stops for 9.4s and continues on the hard tyres and has one turn (0.5mm) of front wing, a shorter 9.3s stop for Kimi who opts to change his tyres to the harder compound.  Adrian Sutil pulls his car to the side of the track, his race is over.

The harder tyre looks to be the option tyre at the first round of pit stops with Heidfeld, Vettel and Kovalainen all pit and choosing the harder rubber.

Lap nineteen and Hamilton now has a seven second lead of second-place man Kimi Raikkonen.  Massa has no answer for the race leader, could it be that he is on the softer tyre, or is his Ferrari just struggling with this track?

Hamilton is continuing to extend his lead, and we hear a radio message telling his team he is very happy with the car, that turn of front wing obviously helped the No. 22 car.

It's lap 25 before Massa finally responds to the leaders pace and finds some of the V8 engine sat behind him, he is now lapping at roughly the same pace.

Laps 27, 28, and 29 all seem to go in the favor of Kimi Raikkonen who is not slowly eating away at the Englishman's lead.  David Coulthard makes his first stop of the afternoon on lap twenty-nine and is followed into the pits by Fisichella.

Lap 31 and Fisichella slows Raikkonen down, he holds him up through three corners and finally lets him go on the pit straight after costing him 1.9 seconds in total.

Frenchman, Sebastian Bourdais, passes Coulthard for position on lap 32, he takes 14.

An eight second cushion for Lewis Hamilton by lap 33 means he can just drop the rev limited a touch, maybe down to 18800RPM instead of the usual 19000RPM, this is a new engine and he has to save some of it for Interlagos in two weeks time.  Kubica's mathematical chance of winning the title just don't seem to add up now, as he sits back in seventh place after a poor weekend at BMW.

Lap 35 and McLaren are out in the pit-lane for Heikki as he has a front-right puncture, more than likely caused by his earlier brake problems, he opts for the softer tyres and rejoins the race in seventeenth.  Any chance of him assisting Lewis this weekend are blown out of the window, not that Hamilton needs any help at the front.

Massa pumps up the pace a bit as he prepares to stop on lap 38, he has to go with the harder tyre, and rejoins the race in fourth.

Nine seconds is the gap between Hamilton and Raikkonen as we go into lap 38 and McLaren and Ferrari again, out in the pit-lane to welcome the race leaders respectively.  Softer tyres go on both the silver and red cars, Hamilton gets away quicker, Raikkonen follows but rejoins the track behind Heidfeld who has yet to take his second stop.  Lewis capitalising on those stops as his lead is extended to thirteen seconds.

Massa starts to close in on Raikkonen by lap 43, as we expect, a tactical move by the two Ferrari drivers will see Kimi ease off to allow Massa to take P2 and indeed, the extra two points.  This takes a while to pull off however, as no matter how much Kimi eases off, Massa just can't get close to the Fin, the pass is eventually made on lap 50.

The McLaren of Kovalainen is slowing and as he pulls into the pit lane just six laps from the end it becomes apparent that he will be retiring and pulls it into the garage, a poor afternoon from Heikki.

The chequred flag is lowered and Hamilton takes ten points, Massa takes eight, and the ever reliable Raikkonen takes the final podium spot.

Race Results for the Chinese Grand-Prix 2008

1.  HAMILTON      McLaren

2.  MASSA         Ferrari       +14.9s

3.  RAIKKONEN     Ferrari       +16.4s

4.  ALONSO        Renault       +18.3s

5.  HEIDFELD      BMW           +28.9s

6.  KUBICA        BMW           +33.2s

7.  GLOCK         Toyota        +41.7s

8.  PIQUET        Renault       +56.6s

9.  VETTEL        Toro Rosso    +64.3s

10. COULTHARD     Red Bull      +74.8s

11. BARRICHELLO   Honda         +85.0s

12. NAKAJIMA      Williams      +90.8s

13. BOURDAIS      Toro Rosso    +91.4s

14. WEBBER        Red Bull      +92.4s

15. ROSBERG       Williams      +1 lap

16. BUTTON        Honda         +1 lap

17. FISICHELLA    Force India   +1 lap

R.  KOVALAINEN    McLaren       +7 laps

R.  SUTIL         Force India   +43 laps

R.  TRULLI        Toyota        +54 laps

Drivers Championship Table after the Chinese Grand-Prix

1. Lewis HamiltonMcLaren Mercedes84
2. Felipe MassaFerrari79
3. Robert KubicaBMW Sauber72
4. Kimi RaikkonenFerrari63
5. Nick HeidfeldBMW Sauber56
6. Heikki KovalainenMcLaren Mercedes51
7. Fernando AlonsoRenault48
8. Sebastian VettelScuderia Toro Rosso30
9. Jarno TrulliToyota30
10. Mark WebberRed Bull Racing21
11. Timo GlockToyota20
12. Nelson Piquet JrRenault18
13. Nico RosbergWilliams17
14. Rubens BarrichelloHonda Racing11
15. Kazuki NakajimaWilliams9
16. David CoulthardRed Bull Racing8
17. Sebastien BourdaisScuderia Toro Rosso4
18. Jenson ButtonHonda Racing3


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