Shanghai, Oct 6: Lewis Hamilton could cap an amazing debut season by becoming Formula One's first rookie world champion at the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow.
The 22-year-old Briton will start from pole position and needs a fifth race win of the year or a better finish than McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to secure the title.
''I'm going to try and win the race,'' said Hamilton. ''When I play golf and I'm in the bushes, I don't play safe but I go for the trees.'' Typhoon Krosa could also play a role in Sunday's penultimate race of the season with the storm clouds presaging its arrival on the central coast of China expected to make for a wet and windy day in Shanghai.
That, at least, is the hope of world champion Alonso, who qualified a disappointing fourth for a race he needs to win to keep the title race alive.
The Spaniard, champion with Renault for the last two seasons, is 12 points behind Hamilton with a maximum 20 up for grabs in the last two races, so even a victory may not be enough.
''Anything could happen in the race so I am not giving up and will be pushing 100 percent for the win,'' said the 26-year-old.
Raikkonen retains a mathematical interest in the title race even if he is 17 points behind Hamilton and will start alongside the championship leader on the grid.
''I am confident,'' he said on Saturday. ''We know the situation in the title race is pretty compromised but I will do my all to try and win.'' The Finn's team mate Felipe Massa, whose own title hopes were washed away in the torrential rain of the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, starts third.
''I will be trying to win but clearly if it is required, I am ready to help the team and keep alive its chances of winning the drivers' title,' said the Brazilian.
Ferrari have already won the constructors' championship after McLaren were stripped of all their points and fined $100 million last month for having the Italian team's technical information in their possession.