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Sebastian Vettel drives to the podium after his second race win

Sebastian Vettel drives to the podium in his RB5

Sebastian Vettel has claimed his second career win at the Shanghai International Circuit as rain and standing water made conditions difficult for the entire duration of the third race of 2009. It’s Red Bull’s first win in Formula 1 since their takeover of Jaguar at the end of 2004, and a 1-2 finish, with Mark Webber crossing the line in second. Championship leader Jenson Button finished third.

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Felipe Massa on Podium at Interlagos

Felipe Massa has won his home race, the Brazilian Grand Prix, after a flawless drive. Massa was also on course to win the 2008 F1 championship until Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock at the last corner of the race, and beat Massa to the title by one point, leaving emotional scenes on the podium for the local hero. Fernando Alonso finished second, as one of the most dramatic races in F1 history unfolded at Interlagos.

The race began with a sudden unexpected downpour of rain which caught everyone by surprise whilst the drivers were just getting ready to go off on the parade lap. The race start was delayed 10 minutes, and almost every driver switched to the wet tyres. Most of the pack got away cleanly at the start, with the front-runners staying in position (Massa first, Hamilton fourth). David Coulthard’s final F1 race came to an abrupt end after Nico Rosberg spun his Red Bull into the path of Kazuki Nakajima, ending their races. Nelson Piquet made it past the first two corners but also retired by the time his Renault got to turn 3. The safety car was deployed and Giancarlo Fisichella was the first to enter the pits for dry tyres, pushing his Force India right up to fifth place. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso pitted on lap eight, Massa on lap nine, and Hamilton on lap ten. McLaren were waitng to see what Massa did but it was a bad move as Hamilton found himself seventh at the restart. The positions ahead of him were now occupied by Massa, Vettel, Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Fisichella and Jarno Trulli.

Trulli went wide at turn one and Hamilton got the better of him. The Toyota driver, after his second place start, now found himself in seventh. Hamilton then made a bold move on Fisichella and pulled it off, now back into the fifth place he required to take the championship. Vettel was putting as much pressure on Massa for the race lead as he could, but was forced to pit and Alonso was promoted to second, Raikkonen to third and Hamilton to fourth. Timo Glock was starting to put pressure on Hamilton’s fourth, but also pitted. Massa was next in and Ferrari fuelled him to the end of the race. The rest of the race leaders then pitted for the final fuel stint. Vettel then pitted for the third time and fell to fifth behind Hamilton. The championship looking likely to go Hamilton’s way now. That was until more rain was predicted.

5 laps to go and the first drops of rain begin to fall. Everyone comes in for wet tyres, with Hamilton only just ahead of Vettel but knowing he could let the German past, retain fifth, and win the championship. That was until Timo Glock decided to not pit and stay on the dry tyres. Glock moved up to fourth, and Hamilton left the pits in fifth with Vettel right behind him and lapping faster. The race order now Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Glock and Hamilton just hanging on to a championship winning position, with Vettel trying to get past and demote him to sixth, which would give Massa the title.

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Felipe Massa has taken pole position at his home race which will decide whether the championship goes in his favour or not. Jarno Trulli made a surprise in qualifying and will line up on the front row for the first time since 2005. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will start the race from fourth on the grid. Massa’s pole lap of 1:12.368 was a full four tenths of a second faster than Trulli’s and a further one tenth better than Hamilton’s.

Kimi Raikkonen is also on hand to help Massa’s title bid in third place, with Hamilton’s teammate in fifth. Fernando Alonso proved to be best of the rest in sixth and both Toro Rosso’s again made it to Q3, with Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais lining up seventh and ninth for the race. Nick Heidfeld managed to slot in between the Toro Rosso’s and Timo Glock rounded up the top ten. Nelson Piquet Jr couldn’t quite make it into Q3 and will start from eleventh ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and BMW’s Robert Kubica. David Coulthard will start his final F1 race from fourteenth. Rubens Barrichello just scraped through to Q2 but could do no more and settled for fifteenth. Both Williams failed to get past the first qualifying session so Kazuki Nakajima, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will start the race from the back of the grid.

Massa has done all he can to try and secure the championship, and with Trulli and Raikkonen behind him, he looks likely to take the win. The question is, can Hamilton make no mistakes under pressure and not fall behind fifth place? The 2008 Formula 1 championship will be wrapped up in the next 24 hours and everyone is on the edge of their seats. The sport is waiting to find it’s 30th drivers’ champion, and it could still go either way. It all comes down to the chequered flag in Interlagos tomorrow and there can only be one winner.

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Renault’s Fernando Alonso has pipped home favourite Felipe Massa to the top spot during second practice in preparation for the 2008 championship decider on Sunday. His last minute lap of 1:12.296 was just 0.05 seconds faster than Massa’s best attempt.

Jarno Trulli separated the Ferrari’s in third, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Rain that fell during the session appeared to help Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Nelson Piquet Jr, who finished in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. The Williams cars were looking good too, with Nico Rosberg eighth and Kazuki Nakajima tenth. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, dropped off his early morning pace and could only manage ninth place, four tenths down on his title rival. David Coulthard dramatically improved to eleventh place, with both BMW’s behind. Timo Glock was five tenths slower than his teammate in fourteenth place while Heikki Kovalainen rounded off a bad session for McLaren in fifteenth. Rubens Barrichello, Sebastien Bourdais, Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella set the five slowest laps.

Alonso ended Friday on top, with Hamilton struggling, but will things stay the same as the teams head into day two?

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Felipe Massa has set the fastest time during the first practice session ahead of this Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix. He edged ahead of his championship rival, Lewis Hamilton, by just under two tenths of a second, with a lap of 1:12.305.

Reigning world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, secured the third fastest lap, while his rival for third place in the championship, Robert Kubica, set the fourth fastest lap. Heikki Kovalainen was just over four tenths of a second behind his teammate in fifth, and sixth place went to the Renault of Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber took seventh with a lap of 1:13.298, faster than Nelson Piquet Jr, Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg. Toro Rosso had a poor showing in the first session with Sebastien Bourdais in thirteenth and Sebastian Vettel just under two tenths of a second slower in seventeenth. The Hondas finished in fourteenth and fifteenth, despite showing promising pace earlier in the session, and David Coulthard started his final race weekend ahead of just the Force Inidas.

Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton look like they will be inseparable all weekend, but will someone else join the battle in the second Friday practice session?

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Lewis Hamilton has taken a dominant win at the Shanghai International Circuit. It’s his fifth win of the season for McLaren, but not enough to take the championship as his rival, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, finished in second place. Robert Kubica secured sixth place, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the running for the title in Brazil.

The race started with little drama as Hamilton led from the start, with Kimi Raikkonen unable to take him at the first corner. Heikki Kovalainen took Fernando Alonso for fourth, only to lose the place again down the back straight. Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Bourdais made contact at the first corner and fell to the back of the grid. Trulli eventually retired, as did Adrian Sutil who had gearbox problems. Hamilton pulled away at the front, and despite his speed, Raikkonen was unable to catch him. The Finn gave up second to Massa, so he could take two cruical extra points. Heikki Kovalainen also retired after a puncture ruined his race.

Hamilton’s win puts him seven points ahead going into the championship showdown at Interlagos. Ferrari’s second and third places increased their lead in the constructors battle to 11 points.

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Lewis Hamilton continued his pace from the morning into Free Practice Two ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, setting the fastest lap, a 1:35.750, on his first attempt. He was 0.2 seconds faster than his former teammate and Japanese Grand Prix winner, Fernando Alonso, who finished second for Renault.

Nelson Piquet Jr rounded up an excellent session for Renault, setting the third fastest time of the afternoon. Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber put further distance between the main championship rivals, with Felipe Massa in sixth and Robert Kubica way down the order in twelfth. Kimi Raikkonen couldn’t improve on eighth place, behind the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso of Sebstien Bourdais. Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock all sat in the middle with roughly the same time, and Heikki Kovalainen only managed to put his McLaren in thirteenth, ahead of David Coulthard, Sebastian Vettel, Kazuki Nakajima, Giancarlo Fisichella, Adrian Sutil, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello.

Lewis Hamilton has dominated Friday action, but can his pace continue into Saturday?

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