MOTORSPORT

Formula One

Friday 31st October (15:24 GMT)

Lewis Hamilton was narrowly beaten by title rival, Felipe Massa today in Friday practice, ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix championship decider.

Massa was quickest in Interlagos with a lap of one minute 12.305 seconds for Stefano Domenicali's Ferrari team, whilst British driver Hamilton recorded a 0.190 second deficit, setting a time of one minute 12.495.

Hamilton, 23, who holds a seven-point lead over nearest rival Massa, will become the youngest driver in history to lift the Formula One world title if he clinches the crown on Sunday.

The Stevenage born racer has already won five races this campaign and needs a maximum of four points to eclipse the current record for the youngest world champion, Fernando Alonso, who lifted the title as a 24-year-old.

The Mclaren driver, who has received racist hate mail from a Spanish website according to The Sun today (Friday), which contained insults from fans of bitter Spanish rival, Alonso, has been compared to his idol, the late three-time Brazilian world champion Ayrton Senna.

He will be hoping to beat fellow Brazilian, Massa, on Sunday and after losing the title from a winning position to Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari last season, Hamilton told Motor Sport Magazine, of Senna: "I've always felt I had a connection with him, that we're somehow similar."

Hamilton added: "If I could ever ever get to a point of being as good as he (Senna) was, I'd feel great."

Last year's title runner-up, Hamilton, can become the first British driver to lift the Formula One world championship, since Damon Hill beat fellow Williams-Renault team-mate, Jacques Villeneuve, to the title by 19 points in 1996.

He would also become only the third British driver to lift the crown in 16 years, since Nigel Mansell won the championship in 1992 for Williams, with five races to spare.

 

Hamilton edged by menacing Massa