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Formula One's Lewis Hamilton can seize the title

October 17, 2008 |  7:45 pm

Lewis Hamilton

Despite a poor finish last weekend in Japan, Lewis Hamilton can clinch the Formula One World Championship this Sunday at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Hamilton, the second-year McLaren Mercedes driver, currently leads Ferrari's Felipe Massa by five points. If he can extend that lead to 11 points in Shanghai, Hamilton, 23, would win the title regardless of what happens at the season finale Nov. 2 in Brazil.

But Massa still has a strong shot himself, especially if Hamilton has another race like he did in Japan, when the English driver finished 12th and scored zero points. (Points are awarded to drivers finishing first through eighth.)

BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica also remains in contention for the championship, but he's 12 points behind Hamilton and would have to win in China to have a realistic chance.

And Hamilton served notice Friday that he's the one to beat, posting the fastest lap times in both practices. "This is the best possible way to kick off any weekend and has given me extra confidence for the next few days," said Hamilton, who lost the title last year by a single point to Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. "I feel in a very good place right now."

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leaves the pits Friday during the second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, where he posted the fastest lap times. Credit: Luca Bruno / Associated Press Photo