Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he does not need to take unnecessary risks in the Chinese Grand Prix in order to keep his world championship ambitions on track - and this time he means to believe it.

After his controversial move at the start of the Japanese round last weekend, the Briton heads into the penultimate race of the year with a reduced five-point advantage over Felipe Massa, and knows that finishing one place behind the Brazilian in each of the last two grands prix would be enough to take the crown by the same margin as he lost it to Kimi Raikkonen last year.

In a repeat of Fuji, Hamilton out-qualified Raikkonen to claim pole position in Shanghai but, this time, he appears more focused on following the McLaren team's conservative approach to the race.

"As I said at the beginning of the week, I'll just approach it the same as always," he insisted, "I don't need to do anything spectacular, I just need to be myself and drive the way I drive and that's all I need to do."

Claiming pole position gives Hamilton a small psychological advantage over Massa, who lines up in third place, but it appeared for a while that the Briton may have had to give best to the two Ferraris.

"I made a mistake in the middle sector," he admitted after clocking a first timed lap some six-tenths off the pace, "I had an oversteer moment in turn eight, went wide and was on the marbles, so I didn't push for the rest of the lap. I spent the rest of the lap - or the next few corners - trying to clean the tyres.

"In the last sector, I wasn't particularly quick, but it didn't matter as long as I got in a banker lap, that was all that mattered to me. I had to finish the lap, I couldn't bail out, I still had to get a banker in. Then I came in and the team told me where the time was lost. I knew where it was lost, so I went out and made sure it worked the next time.

"I knew that, on the second attempt, I would get it right. I think, generally, as drivers, when you don't get the first lap, the second is always the hard one - but, for me, that's exciting. The first lap didn't work, the second one was hardcore!"

Hamilton insists that his focus has not been deflected either by the controversy of last weekend's Japanese race, or by memories of the pit-lane slip-up that severely wounded his title bid in Shanghai a year ago.

"I think, coming from some positives from the previous race, we came here very strong, very determined and with a good frame of mind," he claimed, "We have been very competitive all weekend. The practices have gone very well and the qualifying was one of our best.

"To be honest, I didn't have anything hanging over me or anything else on my mind except for just doing a good lap. I was relaxed, I was happy with the balance of the car, and I knew that I could have done it, so it was a matter of going out and doing it. It was tough, for sure, because everyone was very competitive, even Heikki, but I am very happy that I got the lap done."

The second flying lap eventually produced a margin of three tenths in Hamilton's favour, but the Briton admitted that, in hindsight, maybe he could have still made better decisions.

"I think we could have probably stuck even more fuel in it...," he grinned.