Route to the Championship: A Race-by-race guide to the title

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The Independent Online

*Australia Hamilton starts the season with a dominant victory and an early lead in the World Championship as the Ferraris run into trouble.

*Malaysia Ferrari strike back as Kimi Raikkonen wins and Hamilton has to settle for fifth after a tough early fight with Fernando Alonso and then a delay due to a faulty wheelnut locking mechanism during a pit stop.

*Bahrain Felipe Massa wins for Ferrari to get his campaign underway. The wheels begin to come off for Hamilton at the start as he selects the wrong starting mode for his McLaren. Later he runs into the back of Fernando Alonso's Renault, necessitating a remedial pit stop. He finishes 13th and loses his championship lead to Raikkonen as a result.

*Spain Raikkonen and Massa run riot, leaving Hamilton to pick up a distant third place. The pendulum is swinging in favour of the red cars as Raikkonen extends his points lead.

*Turkey Hamilton overstresses his right front tyre. Massa wins again but Hamilton makes the most of a three-stop strategy to salvage second ahead of Raikkonen.

*Monaco Hamilton's chances appear to have disappeared when he glances a wall, necessitating a pit stop. But McLaren fill the car with fuel and as others stop for gas he climbs back into contention. He does not need to stop again and drives on to score a brilliant victory. He retakes the points lead, three ahead of Raikkonen.

*Canada Hamilton quickly opens up a lead but a safety car period causes a rash of refuelling stops. Hamilton's stop is slow and he exits the pit behind Raikkonen and Robert Kubica. As that pair stop for a red light at the pit lane exit, Hamilton runs into Raikkonen. Both retire, leaving Kubica to win and take the championship lead.

*France Raikkonen leads until an exhaust problem forces him to surrender the place to Massa, who takes the lead of the championship. Hamilton is in trouble after passing Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap by cutting a chicane and has to serve a drive-through penalty on the 13th lap. He finishes 10th, out of the points.

*Britain After losing pole position to McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, Hamilton bulls his way by him at the start as rain affects the British Grand Prix. Massa, Raikkonen and Kubica are left floundering as Hamilton scores the greatest victory of his career which puts his title aspirations back on track. Hamilton, Massa & Raikkonen 48, Kubica 46

*Germany Hamilton builds a commanding lead but loses it when Timo Glock crashes and McLaren keep him out on the track as everyone else pit to refuel under a safety car. He then puts in a storming drive to catch and pass Massa and Nelson Piquet to take another 10 points. Hamilton 58, Massa 54

*Hungary Hamilton takes pole but Massa makes a brilliant start and is heading for a dominant victory when his Ferrari engine breaks with three laps left to run. Hamilton drops back with a puncture on the 41st lap. Team-mate Kovalainen wins with Hamilton fifth to add another four points. Hamilton 62 , Raikkonen 57, Massa 54

*Valencia Massa wins and Hamilton takes second. Kubica is third to keep himself in contention. Hamilton 70, Massa 64

*Belgium Raikkonen has the race won until rain comes in the closing stages. Hamilton slips alongside him with two laps to run, then has to cut the chicane as Raikkonen defends his position. Hamilton obeys the rules and lets Raikkonen repass before the start/finish line, then passes him going into the first corner. Hamilton's victory is subsequently overruled in a controversial decision by the race stewards. Massa is handed victory. Hamilton 76, Massa 74

*Italy After a tyre gamble in qualifying Hamilton starts 15th but fights up in a wet race to seventh and two points. Sebastian Vettel wins, Massa sixth. Hamilton 78, Massa 76

*Singapore Alonso bounces back for Renault ahead of Nico Rosberg. As Massa fails to score after a pit stop disaster, and Raikkonen crashes, Hamilton bides his time with a canny third place for another six points. Hamilton 84, Massa 76

*Japan Hamilton takes pole but gets flustered and a clutch slip enables Raikkonen to beat him to the first corner. A desperate outbraking move earns him the lead briefly before he slides wide. A clash with Massa spins him off and drops him to the tail of the field on the second lap, and then a drive-through penalty as a result of the first-corner incident kills any chance of points as Massa fights back. Sébastien Bourdais is dropped back for causing the Brazilian to spin, Massa picks up another point. Hamilton 84, Massa 79

*China Hamilton has pole, Raikkonen second, Massa third. In the race Hamilton runs away from Raikkonen, who cedes second place to Massa. Hamilton 94, Massa 87