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McLaren makes a meal of Chinese GP, as title fight goes down to the wire

NEWS STORY
07/10/2007

Conditions are worse, far worse, than anyone, even the most respected expert could have predicted. As some try to find shelter it seems as though there is no escape, and the damage done is immeasurable. Havoc has been wreaked and a trail of destruction is all that remains. Hopefully, things will calm down in time, but for the moment all we can do is stand back and watch in frustration and hope that the damage isn't permanent.

No, we're not talking about the anticipated arrival of typhoon Krosa, which appears to have by-passed the Shanghai Circuit, but the continuing deterioration in the 'relationship' between Fernando Alonso and McLaren.

With less than an hour before the penultimate race of the 2007 season gets underway, while there have been a few (heavy) rain showers, there has been nothing like the conditions witnessed in Japan last week, and certainly nothing resembling typhoon conditions.

That said, many of the teams are predicting rain during the course of the race, though (naturally) they do not know when it will fall or the level of intensity.

It appears that most of the teams have erred in favour of a dry set-up, however, one cannot help but feel that BMW, in particular, has gone the other way.

Against all the odds, Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position today. We say again all odd, because as well as not having looked particularly comfortable during the three practice sessions, Lewis didn't appear to have anything like the pace of Kimi Raikkonen, who dominated all three sessions. However, when he needed it most, Lewis pulled a rabbit from his Bridgestone cap and placed his McLaren on pole.

As ever, there is the all important question of strategy, both tyres and fuel loads, but let's not forget about the weather… with thirty minutes to go before the start, a sudden flash rain shower hits the track, conditions are changing, just like that!

The drivers come out for their warm-up laps, many of the drivers opting for Intermediates. Hamilton describes conditions as being "more slippery than last week".

With ten minutes to go, While Tanja Bauer (Premiere TV) interviews Ron Dennis, ITV's Martin Brundle gets the "not tonight son, come back next week when you're sober" much to his obvious frustration. Maybe the 'taste police' are taking him and the rest of his broadcasting team into custody for the (sickening) tribute to Hamilton from members of the English rugby team.

With five minutes before the field heads off on the parade lap, the air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. It is not raining now, but we are expecting intermittent showers, some of them possibly very heavy, throughout the afternoon. Indeed, David Coulthard is informed by his crew that the first shower will begin at around the same time as the race gets underway.

As the cars head off on the parade lap, all the leaders on Intermediates, they throw up plenty of spray. However, as they lap the circuit it is clear that some parts are fairly dry. That said, in the grandstands the fans are putting up their umbrellas, it's raining again.

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