Click above for high-res gallery of the Chinese Grand Prix

If you've been following the 2008 Formula One World Championship and watched the last few races from Japan Singapore and Italy, you've likely grown accustomed to some serious white-knuckle, wheel-to-wheel racing. This weekend's Chinese Grand Prix bore little resemblance to those topsy-turvy, order-upsetting races, and more like a centrally-planned parade that Red China has grown accustomed to. So if you missed today's race from Singapore Shanghai, don't fret. You can follow the jump to find out how it turned out.

  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Cars line up at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing third during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes leads from Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari leads from team mate Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing third during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Renault drives during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing second during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes celebrates on the podium after winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)




The 2008 drivers' championship has been a pretty close race between four serious drivers – Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen and Kubica – all throwing their proverbial hats into the ring for contention. The results, then, from the penultimate race of the season bears significant standing, so we won't keep you guessing any longer. But if you checked in to see the qualifying positions on Saturday, you won't find any surprises, as the top four positions remained, for the most part, unchanged from Saturday morning.


Title front-runner Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole and took the checkered flag, bearly giving up the lead the entire race and crossing the finish line nearly fifteen full seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver qualified third and ran in that position for most of the race. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, by now out of contention to defend his title, qualified second and held his place for the bulk of the race distance until he played the role of wing-man by dropping back to let Massa pass on team orders to give him a fighting chance at the drivers' title going into the last round. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso, who has enjoyed a fruitful tail end of the season after two back-to-back wins in Singapore and Japan, took a solid fourth place, the very same position from which he started.


Farther down the finishing order things seemed a little less like a procession. Grid positions 5 (Heikki Kovalainen), 6 (Sebastian Vettel), 7 (Jarno Trulli) and 8 (Sebastien Bourdais) gave up their positions, with Kovalainen and Trulli retiring and the Toro Rosso duo having a less than splendid day. That let the rest of the field move up, but while there was some passing going on, it was few and far between. Coming around the hemispheric curve at the end of the straight, the cameras repeatedly caught the large grandstands that were all but completely empty. Race promoters in Shanghai had, in previous seasons, sold tickets at drastically reduced prices in order to fill seats, but this time the bleachers remained empty. In their place were enormous block letters spelling out "EXPO 2010", promoting the World's Fair scheduled to come to Shanghai in two years. Hopefully that event will offer a better spectacle than this year's Chinese Grand Prix.


As for what the finishing order means for the title fight, Lewis Hamilton has expanded his lead heading into the final round, if only by one point, over Felipe Massa at 94 to 87. Robert Kubica, next down the list, trails with 75, ahead of Raikkonen's 69. That means that only Massa can deprive Hamilton of the drivers' title, and it'll take some exceptional circumstances. But the seven point lead is exactly what Hamilton held last year heading into the final race in Brazil when the title ended up going to Raikkonen. Ferrari leads 156-145 over McLaren in the constructors' title fight, but we'll have to wait until November 2 to see if Massa can repeat his team-mate's upset... on his own home turf.

  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Cars line up at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing third during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes leads from Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari and Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari leads from team mate Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives on his way to winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing third during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Renault drives during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari drives on his way to finishing second during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes celebrates on the podium after winning the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on October 19, 2008 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)

2009 Chinese Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
4 Fernando Alonso Renault
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
6 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
7 Timo Glock Toyota
8 Nelsinho Piquet Renault
9 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari
10 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault
11 Rubens Barrichello Honda
12 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
13 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari
14 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
15 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
16 Jenson Button Honda
17 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari

Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:36.325

Not classified/retirements:
Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari
Jarno Trulli Toyota

World Championship standings
after 17 rounds

Drivers:
1. Hamilton 94
2. Massa 87
3. Kubica 75
4. Raikkonen 69
5. Heidfeld 60
6. Alonso 53
7. Kovalainen 51
8. Vettel 30
9. Trulli 30
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

Constructors:
1. Ferrari 156
2. McLaren-Mercedes 145
3. BMW Sauber 135
4. Renault 72
5. Toyota 52
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 34
7. Red Bull-Renault 29
8. Williams-Toyota 26
9. Honda 14


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