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China race analysis - Hamilton answers his critics 20 Oct 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108 
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008

After the errors of Japan, there were many predicting - hoping even - that Lewis Hamilton would again crack under pressure in Shanghai. It seemed the world was against him - the press labelled him ‘arrogant’, fellow drivers questioned his on-track conduct, and some even pledged to help his title rivals. Hamilton’s response? Pole position, fastest lap and a lights-to-flag victory that has put him on the brink of becoming Formula One’s youngest world champion in only his second season. We take a team-by-team look at how the Chinese Grand Prix unfolded…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, Retired lap 50, engine

Hamilton owned the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday. He made the perfect start from pole position, only ever surrendered the lead during pit stops, and set the fastest lap on his way to a crucial victory. He described his McLaren as ‘perfect’, and that was all he needed to say. Kovalainen, by contrast, was unlucky. A set of mismatched tyres caused understeer in his first stint and he was running fifth when his right front Bridgestone then punctured on lap 35. He later he retired with a hydraulic problem.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, P3
Felipe Massa, P2

Raikkonen said that his Ferrari handled very nicely, but just wasn’t fast enough. Massa said his car was better on the softer compound Bridgestone, and a handful on the prime tyre. Their glum expressions afterwards said it all. Massa's fading title hopes now rest on the unlikely scenario of the Brazilian winning in Sao Paulo, with Hamilton no higher than sixth.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P4
Nelson Piquet, P8

Alonso and Piquet both had good races. The Spaniard was aggressive with a fuel-heavier Kovalainen on the opening lap and crucially was able to squeeze ahead and thus stay in contact with the Ferraris. Piquet did what was required of him as he scored the final point. Their haul of points secured fourth place for Renault in the constructors’ championship.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P5
Robert Kubica, P6

Both Heidfeld and Kubica made good starts, and the former was quick enough on his two-stop strategy to set the third-fastest race lap. Kubica took the unusual step of retaining the same set of tyres at his first stop and it paid off with sixth place, even if the three points that he earned finally put an end to his world title aspirations.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, retired lap 3, accident damage
Timo Glock, P7

Trulli was pushed into submission by Bourdais at the start, as the Toro Rosso driver tipped him into a spin. The Toyota suffered body damage that was serious enough to prompt retirement on the second lap after two pits stops. Glock went the furthest of anyone on his initial fuel supply, and that lifted his TF108 into contention for a solid seventh place finish.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, P9
Sebastien Bourdais, P13

No points this race for Toro Rosso. Vettel ran strongly early on but was defeated in his quest for points by the one-stop strategies for Kubica at BMW Sauber and Glock at Toyota. Bourdais’s chances were ruined by the brush with Trulli on the opening lap, and his version was that the Italian didn’t see him tucked up under Vettel’s rear wing as Trulli tried to turn in.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P14
David Coulthard, P10

Webber was the first to stop for fuel, on the 12th lap, and he was unable to make up ground thereafter. Coulthard had the better race here, bringing his RB4 home 10th.

Honda
Rubens Barrichello, P11
Jenson Button, P16

Barrichello drove an aggressive race to bring his Honda home 11th, but Button found his still lacked balance and was a lapped 16th.

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, P12
Nico Rosberg, P15

It was another unhappy afternoon for Williams, with a one-stop strategy helping Nakajima to 12th place, three ahead of two-stopping team mate Rosberg. Again, the FW30 was just not quick enough in fast corners.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, P17
Adrian Sutil, retired lap 14, gearbox

Fisichella trailed home 17th and last, while Sutil’s race ended after 13 laps with gearbox failure as he entered the pits.