After qualifying second for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos this weekend, championship leader Lewis Hamilton proved he had learned the lesson from his Chinese error by vowing he would not be aiming to win the race at all costs.

It was just such an all-or-nothing approach in Shanghai that potentially cost him his early opportunity to wrap up the laurels two weeks ago, as he insisted on battling Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari despite the fact he didn't really need to, his tyres were becoming increasingly worn and his driving increasingly ragged. Having been roundly criticised over his Chinese error, the McLaren ace - who stands to become the first rookie to lift the laurels in the sport's history should he succeed in doing so on Sunday - promised he would not make the same mistake again.

"It was a fantastic last run for me, which could have seen me possibly on pole," the 22-year-old enthused of his final Q3 effort. "Overall I am happy with today's qualifying. The car is working well, and I feel really comfortable. Obviously it was a very close and tense session, but the team did a good job in making sure we both got that final fuel-burning lap.

"I am quite confident and relaxed for tomorrow, and I know what I have to do to win the championship. My focus is not on winning the race but the title."

The 'both' Hamilton refers to is himself and team-mate Fernando Alonso, who crucially will begin the race directly behind the Brit, having struggled to keep pace with the leading three throughout the session. Just four points separate the pair in the battle for honours, and with Raikkonen still in the hunt too McLaren boss Ron Dennis is well aware there will be no room for even the tiniest error.

"Both Fernando and Lewis did a great job in qualifying," he asserted. "We obviously cut it fine to ensure both drivers got an additional fuel-burning lap, but it all worked as planned. Fernando and Lewis had the same advantage, and it's now really in their hands.

"It was obviously good for the crowd that (Felipe) Massa got pole, but we are trying to be disciplined and focus on the race and winning the world championship with one of our drivers. The whole team look forward to the race, which hopefully will be exciting for all the fans."

"A good basis to start this championship-deciding race from," agreed Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. "Lewis starts from the first row for the twelfth time this season, and Fernando is just 30 thousandths of a second behind Kimi on the second row. It will be a tough challenge, but the entire team is working hard to achieve the last and decisive step in the world championship."

 

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