Lewis Hamilton will take a seven-point lead into the final round of the world championship after dominating the Chinese Grand Prix.
McLaren driver Hamilton put his troubled Fuji race behind him by controlling the Shanghai event throughout, while his title rival Felipe Massa had to rely on Ferrari team orders to secure a distant second place ahead of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton had little trouble holding the lead at the start, and then made an early break. Although Raikkonen was able to close slightly later in the first stint, by that time he was four seconds adrift - while Massa could not match either of the two leaders and was running eight seconds behind when he became the first of the front-runners to pit on lap 14.
Hamilton and Raikkonen stopped one lap later, with the Briton then extending his lead further in the middle stint.
By the time the final stops were due, Hamilton was nine seconds clear of Raikkonen and 14 seconds ahead of Massa, so with no hope of beating the McLaren on speed, Ferrari switched focus to getting their title challenger in front of their outgoing champion.
Raikkonen's pace gradually became more relaxed and with seven laps to go Massa slipped past into the hairpin. But by that time, Hamilton was 16 seconds ahead and on course for a dominant and hugely significant victory.
Fernando Alonso finished fourth for Renault, unable to match the top three this time but clear of the rest of the field. He briefly lost the place to McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen through the first corners, before repassing the Finn into the hairpin further around the opening lap.
Kovalainen then fell away from the Renault, although he might have had a chance to strike back by running longer at the final stops had he not picked up a right front puncture on lap 34. The slow lap back to the pits for new rubber dropped Kovalainen to 15th and he eventually retired with six laps to go.
The BMW Saubers completed the top six, with Robert Kubica using a long first stint to gain ground from 11th on the grid. The Pole finished close behind teammate Nick Heidfeld, but sixth was not sufficient to keep him in the title hunt, which is now a two-horse race.
Timo Glock used a one-stop strategy to take seventh for Toyota, ahead of Renault's Nelson Piquet, who also gained ground by running a very long first stint.
That meant Toro Rosso's points scoring run came to an end, with Sebastian Vettel finishing only ninth and Sebastien Bourdais down in 13th following a first corner tangle that took Jarno Trulli's Toyota out of the race.
One-stopping David Coulthard (Red Bull) beat Rubens Barrichello's Honda to 10th, while Mark Webber charged up the order initially following his engine change penalty but fell back into heavier traffic after his early first stop and had to settle for 14th behind Kazuki Nakajima (Williams) and Bourdais.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai International Circuit, China; 56 laps; 305.066km; Weather: Cloudy. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1h31.57.403 2. Massa Ferrari (B) + 14.925 3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 16.445 4. Alonso Renault (B) + 18.370 5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 28.923 6. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 33.219 7. Glock Toyota (B) + 41.722 8. Piquet Renault (B) + 56.645 9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:04.339 10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) + 1:14.842 11. Barrichello Honda (B) + 1:25.061 12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 1:30.847 13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:31.457 14. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 1:32.422 15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 1 lap 16. Button Honda (B) + 1 lap 17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) + 1 lap Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:36.325 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 50 Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 14 Trulli Toyota (B) 3 World Championship standings, round 17: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Hamilton 94 1. Ferrari 156 2. Massa 87 2. McLaren-Mercedes 145 3. Kubica 75 3. BMW Sauber 135 4. Raikkonen 69 4. Renault 72 5. Heidfeld 60 5. Toyota 52 6. Alonso 53 6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 34 7. Kovalainen 51 7. Red Bull-Renault 29 8. Vettel 30 8. Williams-Toyota 26 9. Trulli 30 9. Honda 14 10. Glock 22 11. Webber 21 12. Piquet 19 13. Rosberg 17 14. Barrichello 11 15. Nakajima 9 16. Coulthard 8 17. Bourdais 4 18. Button 3 All timing unofficial
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