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As it happened: Raceday in Shanghai
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
03:00 Hello and welcome to Live for raceday in Shanghai, as we approach the 2008 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.

Today we will be bringing you updates and news from the circuit in the build-up to the race, a look back at the qualifying hour, analysis of the key players in today's event, along with live text commentary of the race itself.

03:02 You can join in the fun in a live debate with other forum members as the action unfolds.

The burning question of the day is very straightforward. Will Lewis Hamilton become the 2008 FIA Formula One world champion today, or will Felipe Massa or even Robert Kubica score big points so that the championship is decided in Brazil next month?

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to add your views on the race.

03:05 Raceday has dawned dry and mainly cloudy, even with some mist in the air, but conditions, as forecast, are dry this morning.

The latest weather predictions are still calling for some light sprinkles of rain later this afternoon, following a progressive build up of cloud cover.

The maximum air temperature later today will reach 26 degrees Celsius, but track temperatures are expected to remain cool due to the lack of direct sunshine.

Lewis Hamilton starts from pole position03:12 Lewis Hamilton bagged a critical pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix yesterday, bouncing back from a major moment on his first attempt at a lap in the final period of qualifying.

The day started with the third and final practice session, giving the teams and drivers one last chance to set their cars up for the race. As usual, the top teams continued to concentrate on race simulation work, making sure everything is set correctly for the long runs, while further down the pecking order some spent time trying short runs, optimising their pace ahead of the all-important qualifying session.

Nick Heidfeld topped the list for BMW, setting a time of 1:36.061, with Lewis Hamilton second and Robert Kubica third in the other BMW Sauber. Ferrari appeared to spend the whole session running with plenty of fuel in the tank - Felipe Massa was 12th with teammate Raikkonen 13th.

The major drama in an otherwise normal morning practice involved Mark Webber, whose Renault engine in the Red Bull blew up spectacularly at top speed approaching the braking zone for the tight turn 14 hairpin. The Australian was forced to change the powerplant and faced a ten-place grid penalty, to be taken after the conclusion of qualifying.

Heidfeld fastest in final China practice

Track conditions would turn out to be slightly better in the morning practice than in qualifying later in the afternoon - just as it was on Friday. This was demonstrated by Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kazuki Nakajima and David Coulthard, who all posted quicker times in the morning than during the qualifying hour. Needless to say, all five drivers failed to make it through the first period of qualifying.

Coulthard had the most to say about his demise in the first portion, as it quickly transpired that the Scot had been impeded by Nick Heidfeld during the final moments of the session. Coulthard failed to make the cut by just under one tenth of a second as a result.

Coulthard slams 'unsportsmanlike' Heidfeld

The qualifying story continued into the second portion, with the remaining 15 drivers going for the top ten positions. Robert Kubica was the big name to fall, only managing 12th fastest. The title outsider's chances have been ruined this weekend by an ill-handling BMW Sauber that he just can't get a neutral balance with. Also out was Nelson Piquet - who, until that point had driven superbly all weekend. Timo Glock in the Toyota joined the second group to be eliminated along with Rubens Barrichello who did an amazing job just to make it out of Q1 by the skin of his teeth and Nico Rosberg, who said on Thursday that the Shanghai International Circuit would be the worst track of the season for his Williams team.

Lewis Hamilton leads Felipe MassaThat left the top ten drivers to fight it out for the front of the grid - with championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa going head to head. As it turned out neither of them were provisionally fastest after the first of runs - it was Heikki Kovalainen who put his McLaren at the top of the tree after a strong first effort, with the Ferraris in chase and Lewis Hamilton only fifth after a mistake at turn eight when he got oversteer and ran out onto the marbles, compromising the rest of the lap.

It would all turn around, however, on the final runs of the shootout as Hamilton broke the beam with a 1:36.303 that knocked Kimi Raikkonen - who had just taken the top position - down to second place. Massa was next up, posting the third fastest time. Fernando Alonso continued the Renault resurgence with another fine fourth place, which left Heikki Kovalainen to complete his lap. The Finn, looking to qualify at the front in order to give support to Hamilton, stunned everyone with a poor 1:36.930 for fifth.

Hamilton grabs crucial pole in China

Mark Webber was next up in sixth, going for a high qualifying position following his engine change. The determined Aussie will start 16th today following his ten-place demotion. Seventh on the time sheets was Nick Heidfeld, but following a very late stewards investigation the German was deemed to have been at fault in the earlier incident with David Coulthard and was subsequently handed a three-place penalty on the grid, dropping him down to ninth.

Heidfeld gets three-place grid penalty

03:20 The track has already been open for the first two support races of the day: the Aston Martin Asia Cup and Formula BMW Pacific.

It is the inaugural season for the Asia Cup series of Vantage N24 racers based on the European-spec Aston Vantage and built to FIA GT4 regulations.

This morning also saw the penultimate round of the BMW Pacific series with Ross Jamison for Team Meritus on course for the championship title.

The track temperature has been matching the air temperature at 26 Celsius.

03:30 The GP2 Asia series cars are on their formation lap prior to the sprint race.

Saturday's race had a dramatic conclusion when Roldan Rodriguez took the win after Kamui Kobayashi spun from the lead at turn two.

Rodriguez wins as Kobayashi spins

Hamilton on pole03:50 Lewis Hamilton grabbed a vital pole position qualifying yesterday and will start the Chinese Grand Prix in the best position of the three championship contenders.

The points leader also had the best grid slot one week ago at the Fuji Speedway, but that race didn't quite go to plan after a poor launch off the line, and Lewis came away from Japan without increasing his points total.

After the dramatic opening laps of the last Grand Prix, the start of today's race, with the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Massa surrounding him on the grid, was never far from his thoughts on Saturday afternoon.

"It was a fantastic lap," said Hamilton. "After watching it we could have gone even heavier (on fuel) but it's not really a worry, as long as we get a good start, which will be the key tomorrow.

"We're definitely making better starts than we were last weekend and it's something we've tried to make sure we correct. For sure, Ferrari, they seem to have the better starts of everyone at the moment but hopefully we'll be able to keep up at least - try to match it.

"I've had to deal with both Ferraris many times this year so it's nothing new, we've just got to focus on our job, my job, and forget about the rest. We just need to get good points tomorrow. We're still in the lead and that's what's most important."

Saturday's qualifying wasn't perfect for the championship leader, who could theoretically clinch the title in China this afternoon. He was forced to make an additional run in the second segment of qualifying after his initial time on the harder tyre fell down the order, with other runs being posted on softer rubber. He also explained a mistake on his first attempt at a lap in the decisive final ten minutes.

"It wasn't all plain sailing," Lewis said. "Q1 was good, Q2 was okay - I usually like to do just one lap but everyone went out on the option (softer tyre), which was quicker, so I had to do that also, which was no problem. And then in the Q3, my first lap - it's very hard when you go out and you, first of all you have no fuel then you have loads of fuel (in Q3) in the car and it's a big difference. I had a big wide moment but I corrected it on the last lap, which was a really good lap. I was very happy with it.

"I lost eight tenths or something on the first run (in Q3). But that was because I went wide, which put me wide for turn nine and ten so it was just a shambles of a lap but I just had to approach it, just keep driving the way you've been driving all weekend and it won't be a problem - and it wasn't."

Asked about the possibility of taking the title in China, Hamilton said: "We need to take it one race at a time. We have two races left. It's not all down to tomorrow - it's collectively both races so we have to try to do a good job in both. It's an interesting situation to be in, but it's no different to the last 15 years of my life. The fact is I've always been competitive, I've always been challenging for wins and I've always been in the same situation."

04:32 The 23-lap GP2 Asia Series sprint race finished with Durango's Davide Valsecchi winning from New Zealander Earl Bamber. Javier Villa was third for Super Nova.

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia are the next and final support race runners of a packed timetable of racing at the Shangahi International circuit.

It is the penultimate race of their season as they tackle 12 laps of the circuit. The series, which also joined Formula One in Malaysia and Singapore, will conclude in support of the Macau Grand Prix next month.

04:45 Conditions remain dry and actually slightly brighter than they were a couple of hours ago.

The risk of light rain showers is currently reducing, with the improving conditions suggesting that the circuit is avoiding the worst of today's weather, at least for the moment.

The air and track temperatures are on the rise currently, with the ambient topping everyone's projections at 28 degrees Celsius, and a track temperature of 34 degrees.

Robert Kubica05:07 If Lewis Hamilton does not clinch the drivers' world championship this afternoon, then the three contenders for the crown going into this race will likely become two in Brazil, after a rotten weekend so far for Robert Kubica.

The Pole lies 12 points off the lead with 20 points up for grabs in the remaining two races, but has been plagued by set-up issues with his BMW Sauber F1.08 all weekend.

Instability under braking at the rear of the car, caused by wayward suspension settings, and traction problems on corner exit have given Kubica a headache, with no cure in sight once the cars entered parc ferme conditions at the start of the qualifying session.

Kubica will start 11th on the grid for today's race, following Mark Webber's engine penalty, having done all he could to hustle the BMW round the 3.387 mile Shanghai International Circuit. The result and handling issues have left him praying for rain to equalise the field.

"I think rain will help me a bit. At least it will mix the cars a bit, and it could be that there is something going on more than in a dry race. Looking at the balance (on my car), looking at the position I am starting from, of course rain will be better.

β€œI'm struggling, really struggling with the balance, that's all. While the game is on and until we have no chance we have to try, and that is what we will try to do.”

There is no doubt that Kubica will continue to fight on as hard as he can, but the likelihood is he will be out of the championship hunt in a few hours' time. His consistency, attacking driving and of course the victory in Canada, a year after his terrible crash there, have added greatly to the 2008 season.

Robert went on to speak about his thoughts on the race.

β€œIt will be a difficult race," he said. "In this situation I hope it will rain ... you never know, not the best situation, not the best place, but still we have to minimise the negative affect on this weekend and try our best. The worst thing is that I don't feel well with the car, struggling to drive, and overall I cannot push as I would like, and for tomorrow we cannot work on it so it will be quite difficult.”

05:33 The next action on the circuit, with all this morning's support races now completed, is the Formula One drivers' parade.

The parade sets off in front of the main grandstand, with the spectators cheering enthusiastically.

05:48 The drivers' parade ends and the stars of the show head back into the pitlane and their team hospitality units, for their final preparations ahead of the race.

05:55 Down on the grid, the fans in the immense main grandstand are being entertained by a performance of singing and dancing on the grid.

The show is on a slightly smaller scale to the ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, but it is spectacular nonetheless with dancers in bright pink fairy outfits, surrounded by others in light-blue cartoon character suits.

Kimi Raikkonen06:00 Kimi Raikkonen backed up his second place on the grid in Japan with a repeat performance in China on Saturday. The Finn is extremely well-placed to make Lewis Hamilton's life difficult on the opening lap after the pair line up on the front row in today's race.

"It's a good result but not perfect," Kimi said. "It's getting better all the time, that's the main thing. We tried many different things this weekend and we found quite a good car in the end. We're definitely getting something out from our hard work.

"The car was more balanced today. We have been having some issues in certain places all weekend and now we could more or less fix them so it was okay.

"The difference is three tenths (to pole) so it is quite big but it's hard to say from just the laptime, I mean you can always improve but three tenths is quite a lot. We'll see how much fuel everybody has tomorrow and then go from there."

The start will present Raikkonen with another opportunity to put pressure on Lewis Hamilton as the Finn tries his best to help Felipe Massa's title challenge. He launched brilliantly from the grid seven days ago, and was set to lead the race before Hamilton made his tyre-smoking bid to win back his place following a poor start from the pole-sitting McLaren.

"I'm not on the clean side so I don't know how much difference does it make here but hopefully we can have a good start and try to challenge for first place and go from there," he said. "It's going to be a long race, the weather can change from what I heard, so we just keep pushing and see where we end up."

Ferrari also impressed with their speed on the long straight in Japan and Kimi was asked if he thought the advantage would continue for the straight at Shanghai, which comes after a long, sweeping corner.

"It seems to be quite hard to get a good exit there (turn 13, before the straight)," he said. "You get a lot of wheelspin so, I mean we are maybe a little bit faster on the straight but it is always hard to follow close enough and try to overtake. We'll see what we can do."

06:04 Above the circuit, conditions are dry and quite hazy, giving the impression of being almost overcast. The air temperature remains quite high at 27 degrees Celsius.

The cultural singing and dancing display continues on the grid as we move to within an hour of the start.

Felipe Massa on the soft tyres06:15 For Felipe Massa, the objective is clear: stop Lewis Hamilton winning the world championship today, and take it down to the wire in Brazil in two weeks' time. His mission started yesterday with qualifying, grabbing third place on the grid for this afternoon's 56-lap encounter.

Massa has spent time throughout the weekend battling against understeer with the F2008, and reviewing his final effort in qualifying from an on-board perspective, traces of that are still apparent in the Ferrari's handling.

Following his qualifying effort, the Brazilian spoke to a crowded media scrum in the paddock.

"It could have been a couple of tenths better, but not enough," said Massa. "I didn't have a good lap - the balance was different compared to Q2. Q2 was so easy to make the lap, and Q3 was just ... impossible. I think something happens when we put fuel in the car and it changed a little bit.

"I think today it was impossible to be P1, maybe P2 was maybe a small possibility, but not P1."

Massa must put in the drive of his life today - something that is not beyond the realms of possibility. Last week in Fuji, his pace in the laps before his final pitstop was nothing short of outstanding and, providing he can run a lap or two longer on fuel than his rival Lewis Hamilton, he has an opportunity to reduce the Briton's five-point lead in the title race.

Felipe went on to talk about the race and his objectives.

"On the race pace I don't think we need to be so worried," he said. "It was more worrying to find a good lap on the new tyres. I need to think about myself, and doing the best race possible. For sure the idea is always to be in front of the competitors.

"The feeling is always the same: trying to be as strong as possible in the race. I think that's the most important thing, which I think now, and for sure the race position is not fantastic, but we are not tenth anyway - we are third and we're still having the possibility to fight. We just need to think on that.

"The first corner is not so risky I think. Maybe the second corner is a little bit more tricky, but for sure it is not a difficult track in terms of the first corner.

"For sure it is always better to be in the front, especially when you see that Lewis is there. Unfortunately today it was not possible to be in the front - they showed a better performance than us, but it doesn't mean that tomorrow things can't change. I think we need to believe that, and we need to believe that we can be strong in the race."

06:25 In five minutes' time, the pitlane will open, allowing the cars out onto the circuit for the first time today.

They will make their reconaissance laps round to the grid, checking over the systems and performing radio checks with the pitwall as they come round.

06:28 Lewis Hamilton climbs aboard his McLaren as he prepares to take the car around to pole position on the grid.

06:30 The pit lane is now open in China, allowing the cars out on to the circuit.

06:30 Kimi Raikkonen moves towards his car in the Ferrari garage. The Finn steps into the F2008 and is belted into the machine.

Massa is already in his car, and looking ready to go out soon.

06:31 Kazuki Nakajima, Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen are among the first drivers to leave the pitlane.

Both Williams drivers practice a start at the end of the pitlane.

06:31 The mechanics are busy preparing their equipment as the cars tour around the circuit to the grid.

06:32 Lewis Hamilton comes out, and practices a start at the end of the pitlane.

06:33 Hamilton rounds the 3.387 mile circuit on soft tyres, on his way to the grid.

06:34 Felipe Massa leaves the Ferrari garage with a set of hard tyres bolted onto the F2008.

06:36 Fernando Alonso steps out of his Renault, takes off his helmet and is interviewed for Spanish television on the grid. The winner of the past two races starts a strong fourth today.

06:38 Lewis Hamilton has arrived on the grid. The Briton steps out of his car and takes his helmet and balaclava off.

Heikki Kovalainen has a damp towel draped over his neck to keep cool, as he talks strategy with Mark Slade.

06:40 The race has a late start time of three o'clock in the afternoon local time to help with the time difference world-wide. The sun will be setting as the race progresses and it may be quite dull and certainly cooler by the end of the race.

06:41 Robert Kubica looks concerned and pensive as he stands on the grid, sipping from his drinks bottle. The Pole will start from 11th place today as he bids to stay in the title hunt.

06:45 The pits are now closed as the time ticks down to within 15 minutes of the formation lap.

06:45 Mark Webber wanders through the Renault garage, taking a short cut probably to the nearby toilets. On his way he passes Fernando Alonso who was in the garage taking on board more fluids.

06:46 The packed crowd rises to its feet as the Chinese national anthem rings out over the Shanghai International Circuit.

06:48 Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis of McLaren chat at the front of the grid as Lewis Hamilton walks back on to the circuit and heads towards his car.

06:48 Renault boss Flavio Briatore, having been with Alonso's fourth-placed starting car, walks down to offer some words and support to his other driver, Nelson Piquet.

06:50 The drivers begin to put their helmets back on, and move towards the cars.

06:52 The track temperature is 30 Celsius with a 27 degree ambient in hazy sunshine.

06:52 Timo Glock moves towards his Toyota TF108. The German starts from 12th position on the grid today, and he crouches down next to the car and steels himself for the challenge of the 56-lap race that lies ahead.

06:53 Lewis Hamilton is given some final words of advice and best wishes from Martin Whitmarsh.

06:55 The tension builds on the grid with the formation lap now just five minutes away.

06:57 The drivers sit in their cars and focus on the crucial moments ahead.

06:59 Mechanics fire up the racing machines in front of the busy main grandstand.

06:59 Lewis Hamilton will start with the harder tyre on his McLaren.

06:59 Felipe Massa has again chosen to start on the softer tyres.

07:00 The formation lap begins in Shanghai. All 20 drivers leave the grid without problem.

07:00 Kimi Raikkonen is also on the softer rubber, which may favour the Ferraris off the line.

07:01 Robert Kubica has chosen to start the race on the harder tyre also, as Lewis Hamilton leads the pack through turns 11 and 12.

07:01 Robert Kubica is told on his radio that there is the possibility of a light shower 20 minutes in to the race.

07:02 Hamilton leads the field down the long, long back straight and makes his way down to turn 14 with the rest of the field in tow behind him.

07:02 The official weather forecast is for a 40% chance of rain during the race.

07:03 Hamilton, Raikkonen and Massa stop in their top three grid slots.

The pack form up on the starting grid behind them.

We await the start of this important race ...

Lap 1: The five red lights go out and we are racing in China!

Lap 1: Lewis Hamilton gets a good start and leads in the opening couple of corners from the two Ferraris, and there is contact at the rear of the field.

Lap 1: On to the back straight for the first time it is Hamilton from Raikkonen, Massa, Kovalainen and Alonso.

Lap 2: Sebastien Bourdais and Jarno Trulli have been involved in an incident in the first corner. They run at the back of the field.

Lap 2: Alonso draws alongside Kovalainen off turn 13 and the Spaniard sends his Renault up the inside at the hairpin and he is back in fourth as they flash over the line.

Lap 2: Sebastien Bourdais overtakes Giancarlo Fisichella and moves into 18th position, with Fisichella 19th and Trulli 20th.

Lap 2: Jarno Trulli pits at the end of the first lap in the Toyota.

Lap 2: Hamilton had a great start this time and leads by a second from Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso and Kovalainen.

Lap 3: Nick Heidfeld is up to sixth with Vettel seventh and Kubica starting well to run eighth.

Lap 3: The Toyota team take a quick look at Trulli's car, deem it safe to continue and send the Italian back out onto the track.

Lap 3: Hamilton sets the fastest lap on lap two, as he draws out a lead of almost two seconds over Kimi Raikkonen.

Lap 4: Replays show that Bourdais and Trulli were side by side entering turn one. The pair made contact and Bourdais continued, but Trulli was tipped into a spin and clearly has damage to the TF108.

Lap 4: Replays of the start show no dramas for the front three as they fell into line with the best action at the front being Kovalainen putting a move around the outside of Alonso in turn two, which the Spaniard later reversed with a move on the McLaren at turn 14.

Lap 4: Nick Heidfeld has made a very good start in the BMW. He has immediately regained the three places on the grid that he was dropped yesterday, and runs in sixth position, with Sebastian Vettel seventh, and Robert Kubica also making a good start, running in eighth.

Lap 4: Heikki Kovalainen's pace is over two seconds slower than his teammate and he is coming under pressure from Heidfeld's BMW in a battle for fifth.

Lap 5: Jarno Trulli comes back into the pits again with the damaged Toyota.

Lap 5: Rubens Barrichello took advantage of the midfield contact at the first corner, and has made an excellent start, running up in 10th place.

Lap 6: It is an impressive pace from Hamilton's McLaren in these opening stages as he pulls to a 3.1 second lead with a new fastest lap of 1:36.940.

Felipe Massa continues in third and has dropped to 5.4 seconds behind the leader.

Lap 6: Timo Glock is 12th and has Nico Rosberg climbing all over the back of him, as Jarno Trulli retires from the Chinese Grand Prix.

Lap 7: Fernando Alonso remains in sight of the leaders in fourth and tells his team on the radio: "I can go as quick as the Ferrari."

Lap 7: Sebastien Bourdais has now passed the other Force India of Adrian Sutil for 17th place.

We see the move now and Sutil made an error, running wide at turn 14 handing the Frenchman the position.

Lap 7: Mark Webber has passed Rubens Barrichello for 10th place.

Lap 8: Sebastien Bourdais, having passed the Force India pair, is now hot on the heels of Kazuki Nakajima, who runs in 16th place.

Lap 8: The leaders continue to space out as Hamilton continues to stretch a lead. Kimi Raikkonen has started to respond and the Ferrari driver set his best time on the previous lap.

Lap 8: Sebastien Bourdais continues his recovery through the field and takes away the place from Nakajima at the end of lap seven. Bourdais 16th, Nakajima 17th.

Lap 10: Mark Webber is in 10th place and on the move. The Australian has caught Nelson Piquet, as a battle shapes up between the pair.

Ahead of them Sebastian Vettel runs seventh with Robert Kubica maintaining eighth place.

Lap 10: Lewis Hamilton sets a new fastest lap of 1:36.683 as he stretches the lead over Kimi Raikkonen to four seconds.

Lap 10: Mark Webber and Nelson Piquet dice for position at turn 14. Webber eventually gets the job done two corners later at turn 16 and takes over ninth position, with Piquet 10th, Barrichello 11th and Glock 12th.

Lap 11: Kimi Raikkonen responds by taking the fastest lap in 1:36.664 as he takes a couple of tenths out of Hamilton's advantage.

Lap 11: Sebastien Bourdais has caught Jenson Button. They are 15th and 16th. Bourdais has passed three cars on the track already and is looking to make it four.

Lap 12: The teams continue to track a light rain shower on their weather radars but the official forecast has been reduced to a 20% chance of rain.

Lap 12: Timo Glock in 12th has had Nico Rosberg tied to his gearbox since the start of the race. The pair continue their close battle, with Rosberg still trying to get past the Toyota, and receiving encouragement over the team radio to make a move.

Lap 13: The pace of the Ferraris continues to improve as they find some performance from their choice of the softer tyres.

Replays show a sizable moment of oversteer for Hamilton in turn two as he continues to lead on the harder tyre.

Lap 13: Rosberg is running with the soft tyres for the first stint, and he sends a move up the inside of Glock on the long straight approaching turn 14. Rosberg out-brakes the Toyota driver and takes 12th position.

Lap 14: Hamilton sets an impressive fastest lap of 1:36.325 as the first pit stops draw near.

Lap 14: Mark Webber comes in to the pits for the first time this afternoon. The Red Bull driver rejoins down the order, in 18th place.

Lap 15: Felipe pits the Ferrari from third and he is followed in by Alonso.

Lap 15: Nelson Piquet runs wide exiting turn 16 onto the astroturf on the outside. The Brazilian keeps hold of his ninth place, but the mistake has allowed Rubens Barrichello to close up the gap to the Renault in tenth.

Lap 15: Felipe Massa rejoins in eigth behind Robert Kubica with the softer tyres again the choice for Ferrari.

Lap 16: Adrian Sutil is off to the side of the track. The German was running in 17th place in the Force India, but appears to be out of the race.

Lap 16: Lewis Hamilton pits the McLaren a lap later than his championship rival. Kimi Raikkonen follows the McLaren into the pits.

Lap 16: Both Hamilton and Raikkonen take the harder tyres for the middle portion of the race.

Lap 16: Nico Rosberg pits from 12th place in the Williams. The Williams crew go to work, and Nico rejoins after a total pitlane time of 28.0 seconds.

Lap 17: Heikki Kovalainen is the temporary leader of the race after the stops for the leaders. Nick Heidfeld is up to second and is also still to make his first pit stop.

Lap 17: Replays show that Adrian Sutil suffered some kind of mechanical failure at the end of the lap, with a very small amount of smoke coming from the rear of the Force India. The German is out.

Lap 17: Hamilton has Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso in between himself in third and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in fifth, with over five seconds between them.

Lap 18: Nick Heidfeld makes his stop from second on the road.

Lap 19: Hamilton re-takes the lead as Heikki Kovalainen makes his first stop and takes the harder tyre.

Lap 19: Heidfeld takes on fuel and tyres, and he rejoins in 10th position, with Timo Glock right behind him in 11th place.

Lap 20: The strategies have played out in a very similar fashion for Hamilton, Raikkonen and Massa with the McLaren's pace and advantage on the road looking very good for the championship leader.

Lap 20: Sebastian Vettel has been into the pits for his first stop. The Toro Rosso driver resumes in 14th position, as Rubens Barrichello comes in from eighth place.

Lap 21: Barrichello rejoins after a total pitlane time of 28.1 seconds.

Lap 21: Kimi Raikkonen is 6.9 seconds behind leader Hamilton and the pace was evenly matched on the latest lap.

Lap 21: Felipe Massa had a poor lap in the 1:38s and is currently falling away from Robert Kubica, who started outside the top ten with a heavy fuel load.

Lap 22: Conditions are getting increasingly gloomy at the circuit as the day wears on in Shanghai.

Lap 22: The Button versus Bourdais battle is still ongoing, several laps after Bourdais had caught the Honda on his rise through the back of the field. They run in 11th and 12th. Both have yet to stop.

Lap 24: Jenson Button pits for the first time in the Honda from 11th position. The British driver rejoins the fight after a total pitlane time of 28.6 seconds.

Lap 24: Fernando Alonso runs sixth in the Renault and has the McLaren of Kovalainen around five seconds behind him. The team tell Alonso they think Kovalainen has five laps more fuel, so the Spaniard will have to pull out some pace to stay ahead.

Lap 24: Sebastien Bourdais is released into clear space for a lap with Button in the pits. The Frenchman puts in quick sectors and comes in a lap later for his first stop.

Lap 25: Felipe Massa has fallen to almost 15 seconds behind leader Hamilton, although his pace has improved in recent laps to be similar to those ahead of him.

Lap 25: Bourdais clears the pitlane in 26.4 seconds - two seconds faster than the Honda, and Bourdais takes track position away from Jenson Button.

Lap 26: Bourdais also jumped Nico Rosberg for track position as well as Jenson Button. Bourdais runs 16th, Rosberg 17th and Jenson Button last in 18th place.

Lap 26: Robert Kubica pits the BMW after a very long first stint. The team did not appear to change the tyres and he continues, needing to stop again late in the race for a stint on softs.

Lap 28: Nelson Piquet came into the pits and took on another set of hard tyres, indicating the first of two stops. He rejoined in tenth position, seven seconds behind Robert Kubica.

Lap 28: Kimi Raikkonen has edged closer to Lewis Hamilton in recent laps with the gap now at 6.4 seconds.

Lap 29: The top six have all stopped. Timo Glock runs seventh with David Coulthard close behind him in eighth. Both have yet to stop, with Robert Kubica ninth, Nelson Piquet 10th, Vettel 11th and Kazuki Nakajima in 12th place.

Lap 29: David Coulthard pits from eighth place for his one and only stop this afternoon. The Scot leaves the pitlane after 30.9 seconds total time.

Lap 30: At half distance in China, Lewis Hamilton leads from Kimi Raikkonen by 6.6 seconds. Felipe Massa is third, some 15.5 seconds behind the leader.

Fernando Alonso is fourth with Kovalainen fifth followed by Heidfeld, Glock and Kubica.

Lap 30: Giancarlo Fisichella is also in for his one stop in the race. 31.5 seconds total pitlane time and the Italian rejoins in 18th and last position.

Lap 31: The gap is varying at the front as the leaders begin to encounter lapped traffic. Kimi Raikkonen slips past Giancarlo Fisichella as they come out of turn 13 but loses a lot of time.

Lap 31: David Coulthard rejoined after his sole stop in 14th place, crossing the line at the end of the next lap he was only 0.2 seconds ahead of Sebastien Bourdais.

Bourdais has not managed to get past the Red Bull Renault and they remain in 14th and 15th places.

Lap 32: Bourdais has another go at Coulthard as they flash across the line, with just one tenth of a second between them at the end of the next lap.

Bourdais forces the mistake out of Coulthard and the Frenchman takes over 14th position at turn one.

Lap 33: Lewis Hamilton sets a 1:36.801 to pull out the lead gap to 7.8 seconds. Replays show Raikkonen was clearly unhappy with Fisichella and he expressed his displeasure at the Italian.

Lap 33: Kazuki Nakajima and Mark Webber pit together from 11th and 12 places.

Webber is in for the second time today, moving on to the softer tyres. Nakajima is in for his one and only stop, having run for 31 laps on his first stint.

Lap 33: Timo Glock is the last driver to pit. He comes in from seventh, takes on soft tyres and the stop is 9.0 seconds.

Glock rejoins the race.

Lap 34: 23 laps remain in the Chinese Grand Prix as conditions get ever gloomier as the daylight diminishes in Shanghai.

Lap 34: Sebastien Bourdais has pulled away to the tune of 3.7 seconds ahead of David Coulthard. Bourdais has established that gap in just two laps. Coulthard is 13th, and has now been caught by Nico Rosberg.

Meanwhile Bourdais is flying in the high 1:37s.

Lap 35: Nico Rosberg passes David Coulthard up the inside of turn 14 for 13th place. David doesn't fight too hard and actually gives track position away quite easily.

Lap 35: Heikki Kovalainen has a puncture in the McLaren ...

Lap 36: The Finn is crawling around the circuit with a blown right front tyre and makes it back to the pits.

Lap 37: Nakajima and Mark Webber pitted together several laps ago. Since that time Nakajima has done a great job in keeping ahead of the Australian. They are right down the back of the field in 16th and 17th places.

Lap 37: This is not good for McLaren's challenge in the constructors' championship as Kovalainen resumes with new tyres.

Lap 37: Fernando Alonso pits the Renault from fourth, taking the softer tyres and fuel to the finish.

Lap 38: Felipe Massa is the man with the most pace at the moment as he sets the fastest middle sector of the race.

He pits the Ferrari ...

Lap 38: Kovalainen has rejoined after that stop for the puncture in 17th place, with almost no chance of scoring points this afternoon for McLaren.

Lap 38: Massa swaps to the hard tyre and is safely back in the race.

Lap 39: Lewis Hamilton leads by 8.9 seconds as he and Kimi Raikkonen are set to pit together.

Lap 39: Hamilton takes the softer tyres and the fuel to the flag. He resumes in the lead.

Lap 39: Mark Webber runs wide on his soft tyres and loses time in his battle with Kazuki Nakajima. Nakajima is 15th with Webber 16th and now six second behind the Williams.

Lap 40: Raikkonen emerges with Ferrari's title competitor Felipe Massa not far behind him. A switch between the pair is likely to give the Brazilian the maximum points possible from this race.

Lap 40: Nelson Piquet pits for his second and final stop from seventh place. He rejoins further down the order as the battle for the lower end of the points continues this afternoon.

Lap 40: Nick Heidfeld makes his final stop in the BMW.

Lap 41: Sebastien Bourdais pits for the final time in the Toro Rosso. At his first stop he jumped both Rosberg and Button.

Rosberg pits as well. Bourdais leaves the pits and maintains track position over the German.

Lap 41: Lewis Hamilton leads by a comfortable 12.3 seconds from Kimi Raikkonen and he can afford to protect his engine, which is needed again in Brazil.

Lap 42: Rubens Barrichello pits from ninth place in the Honda. He leaves the pits after a total time of 27.2 seconds.

Lap 42: Robert Kubica makes his final pit stop from fourth on the road. The Pole has done his best to make up for a disappointing run in qualifying but looks likely to fall out of contention for the drivers' title.

Lap 43: The gap between Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa is down to two seconds as the Brazilian continues to close on his teammate.

Lap 44: Timo Glock's one-stop strategy has really paid off. Early in the race the German was outside the top ten, but fast laps before his single stop, and gaining positions when the two-stoppers ahead of him pitted for the final time, have elevated the Toyota to eighth place on merit.

Ahead of Glock is Robert Kubica who rejoined the race in seventh, with Nick Heidfeld further up the road in sixth place.

Lap 45: Sebastian Vettel has been into the pits for his second stop, dropping out of the points, and promoting Glock to seventh and Piquet to eighth place. The BMW duo also moved up as a result of Vettel's stop, with Heidfeld fifth and Kubica sixth, and set to claim three points today, which won;t be enough for the Pole to continue in the championship battle.

Lap 45: The attention up front is on the two Ferraris as the watching world waits to see if and when Kimi Raikkonen will allow his teammate to pass.

The gap between the pair is 1.9 seconds.

Lap 47: Hamilton continues to lead comfortably in the McLaren with 10 laps to go in China. He is under no threat from the Ferraris behind and has shown an outstanding pace at the front today.

Lap 47: Heikki Kovalainen's recovery after the puncture has been slow. The Finn has moved up to 15th position now, and is on the tail of Mark Webber in 14th.

Just ahead of this battle is Sebastien Bourdais, who is on the gearbox of the one-stopping Kazuki Nakajima. They are fighting over 12th.

Lap 49: Massa closes to 1.4 seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen and will surely pass his teammate before the flag. If Hamilton does win, Massa will be seven points behind the Briton if gets past Raikkonen.

Lap 50: Gaps remain fairly static through much of the field as the final laps of the Chinese count down.

Lap 50: Kazuki Nakajima is continuing to hold off Sebastien Bourdais for 12th. Similarly Mark Webber maintains position ahead of Heikki Kovalainen as they scrap over a lowly 14th place, as there is a change up towards the front ...

Lap 50: Felipe Massa drifts past Kimi Raikkonen on the back straight, handing second to Massa and giving him two vital extra points to take to the decider in Brazil.

Lap 51: Heikki Kovalainen comes into the pits from 15th place ... and he drives straight into the garage.

Kovalainen is out of the race, and was looking unlikely to score this afternoon.

Lap 52: Lewis Hamilton leads by over 16 seconds from Felipe Massa as he heads into the final five laps of the race.

Kimi Raikkonen is third after handing his place to his teammate a couple of laps ago.

Lap 54: Fernando Alonso is fourth, with Heidfeld fifth, Kubica sixth, Timo Glock holding on to that seventh place, and Nelson Piquet in the final points paying position in eighth.

Lap 55: Sebastian Vettel runs seven seconds out of the points in ninth, David Coulthard is tenth, Barrichello 11th having a decent race in the Honda.

Kazuki Najaima is 12th and still has Sebastien Bourdais close behind in 13th. Mark Webber is a second behind that pair in 14th.

Lap 55: Hamilton continues to lead by 15 second margin as it gets ever darker in Shanghai with two laps to go.

Lap 56: Hamilton leads into the final lap of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Lap 56: Three drivers have retired from the Chinese Grand Prix:

Jarno Trulli retired early in the race after side to side contact at turn one with Sebastien Bourdais.
Adrian Sutil pulled off the track with a technical problem in the Force India while running in 17th.
Heikki Kovalainen was down the field in 15th place, and retired in the pits in the McLaren, with no chance of scoring points at the time.

08:35 Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix!

Bouncing back from disaster in Japan, he dominated the race weekend with pole position, fastest lap and a commanding fifth race win of the season - taking a big step forward in his championship challenge.

Hamilton goes to the title decider in Brazil with a seven point advantage over Felipe Massa in the Ferrari.

Robert Kubica is now out of the championship campaign.

08:36 Felipe Massa crosses the line to finish second in China, 14.9 seconds behind Hamilton.

08:36 Kimi Raikkonen comes home third in the Ferrari from Alonso's Renault in a strong fourth.

08:38 Nick Heidfeld finishes fifth, ahead of his teammate Robert Kubica in sixth.

Kubica has driven well today in an ill-handling car, hauling himself well into the points, but the title chance is lost now, despite a very good drive.

08:38 Hamilton celebrates an important win as he trundles back to the pits in the winning McLaren.

The championship is all set up for a two-way fight at the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Hamilton heading to Sao Paulo with a seven point advantage over Felipe Massa.

08:38 Timo Glock held on to seventh, a great result for Toyota after their troubled weekend, making great use of a one-stop strategy, and Nelson Piquet claimed the final point for Renault in eighth place.

08:39 Interestingly, six drivers set their quickest laps on the last lap of the race: Fernando Alonso, Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica, Timo Glock, Nelson Piquet and Kazuki Nakajima.

08:40 Hamilton steps out of his car and stands on the cockpit to celebrate a fine win.

08:42 Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen move through to what is known as the 'cool down' room, and are weighed. The wipe themselves down with a towel, and soon they will step out on to the podium to accept the cheers of the crowd.

08:42 Lewis Hamilton steps out onto the podium and the British national anthem is played for the winning driver and constructor.

08:43 Hamilton takes his prize for a dominant drive in Shanghai and a major step towards his championship dream.

08:43 Dave Ryan collects the trophy for the winning constructor, McLaren.

08:44 Felipe Massa accepts the award for second place today in China. The disappointed Brazilian raises a smile though and waves to the fans.

08:44 Kimi Raikkonen completes the podium celebration and is applauded by the crowd before the champagne is sprayed.

08:47 The race report and classification is now available:

Hamilton nears title with dominant win

"It was a disciplined race. We were very pleased with the performance of the team this weekend. Unfortunate, with losing a tyre on Heikki's car. It was a cut on the inside sidewall. Fortunate, we saw the deflation so we were able to bring him back slowly but it took him out of the points. We had very high (pneumatic valve) air consumption on the engine and I was very worried that the engine would fail in front of Lewis, so we thought it prudent to take him out because of that and not risk an engine failure.

"The car is very quick, there is no real opportunity to improve anybody's car between now and Brazil, the cars go straight there, so we just have to hope that we can do the job. It's very challenging for Ferraris to beat Lewis because we can afford to come third. To finish in anywhere in this race you have to finish, so the target is to finish and be disciplined."
Ron Dennis speaking to German broadcaster Premiere

08:57 That disappointing result for Heikki Kovalainen gives Ferrari an 11 point lead in the constructors' race with a maximum of 18 points available at the final round.

BMW fall to 10 points behind McLaren with Renault now secure in fourth after a string of good results in recent weeks.

"We managed to get eight points out of it, which is better than six or better than none but, you know, we still lost two points in the championship.

"We (Massa) had a problem in the first laps of the second stint on the soft tyre where the front tyre grains and I think Kimi had the same problem and it's not possible to do the lap times in the end. You know, there's a long corner coming on to the back straight and he (Raikkonen) had a lot of understeer there and Felipe was able to get in the slip-stream.

"Absolutely no team orders, no, no ... He passed him fair and square on the track."
Rob Smedley, Ferrari, speaking to German broadcaster Premiere

09:10 Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix in dominant fashion, but second place for Felipe Massa takes the title fight down to the wire.

A processional 56 laps at the front got underway with Hamilton getting a good start - just when he needed it most - to lead into the first corner ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

Behind the front runners there was action as Sebastien Bourdais and Jarno Trulli argued over the same piece of road entering turn one. Bourdais was on the inside and claimed the corner. The pair made contact and Trulli was tipped into a spin, damaging his Toyota TF108.

The action in the race pretty much ended there and then. Up front the main players were all on a two-stop strategy, with Hamilton easily able to control the pace ahead of the two Ferraris.

The only subsequent talking point would be would Kimi Raikkonen's likely move to hand second to teammate Massa, and if so, when? The answer came towards the end of the race when Raikkonen did exactly what he had to do, handing over the place to Felipe, enabling him to score eight points and take the title battle down to the final race.

Raikkonen would finish third and Fernando Alonso fourth after another fighting drive in the Renault.

Robert Kubica's world championship hopes ended on Saturday, effectively, when poor balance on his BMW Sauber led to a poor qualifying result. The Pole put in a sterling race drive, however, really making the best out of a bad job and claiming sixth place behind his teammate Nick Heidfeld.

Down at the back of the field, there was plenty of action and several on-track passes that were sadly not shown on television. Sebastien Bourdais did most of the passing, making it past cars easily on track and also beautifully jumping Rosberg and Button at his first stop. Toro Rosso did a very good job with Bourdais' stops and strategy this afternoon.

Ultimately, the day belongs to Lewis Hamilton and his confident drive from the front today. He goes to Brazil in two week's time with a great chance of becoming Britain's first world champion since Damon Hill clinched the crown in 1996.

This was the 2008 Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix on Live. We hope you have enjoyed our coverage throughout the weekend, and make sure to join us in a fortnight for the battle of Brazil.

Race Length 56 laps
 View official live timing
Overcast High Temp: 28°C / 82°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 13 Oct Start GMT
 Chinese Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 17 Oct
 Friday Practice 01:30
Saturday 18 Oct
 Final Practice and Qualifying 02:30
Sunday 19 Oct
 Raceday in Shanghai 03:00
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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