SHANGHAI - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton put himself on the brink of becoming Formula One's youngest champion with a nerveless pole to flag victory at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Felipe Massa kept the title battle alive with second place after Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen let him pass but Hamilton just needs to finish in the top five in his Brazilian rival's home race on November 2 to take the crown at the age of 23.
"All weekend we've had God on our side, as always...this is another step towards the championship, towards my dream," Hamilton said.
"After my second stop we were pretty much cruising. It was inevitable that Kimi would let Felipe by so I just had to keep it under control."
Hamilton's fifth win of the season, and ninth of his 34 race career, gave the Briton 94 points with Massa seven behind and BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica third with 75. Just 10 points remain on the line at Sao Paulo's Interlagos circuit.
"I didn't have a good start," said Massa. "Lewis started to pull away. We were driving at our limit trying to close the gap but it was not possible."
"We need to keep our head up, it's not finished yet. We know that anything can happen in sport."
Kubica's slim hopes of winning the title disappeared despite the Pole making a sterling effort to get his car up from 11th on the grid to sixth at the finish.
Hamilton had been subjected to a barrage of criticism after a wild getaway from pole position and clumsy attempt to retake the lead from Raikkonen at Fuji last weekend.
There were no mistakes on Sunday, and no repeat of the Shanghai nightmare of last season when the rookie skidded off into the gravel at the pit lane entry in a race that could also have handed him the title.
Hamilton made a clean start, sweeping into the first corner and keeping Raikkonen well behind before wrapping up a day of domination with the fastest lap.
"It was a great start, one of the best we've had this year, which was needed," Hamilton said. "I took it easy for the first few corners then I started to bridge the gap."
By the time of his second stop, Hamilton had built up a sufficient advantage to return to the track with his lead intact and he crossed the line nearly 15 seconds ahead of Massa.
Massa had been running third, well behind Raikkonen, but the world champion slowed to let his team mate past seven laps from the end.
"We know what we want as a team and we did what we did. This is normal in this situation," said Raikkonen. "I have nothing to lose or win in a way and I'm driving for the team."
Ferrari were able extend their lead over McLaren in the constructor's championship to 11 points with 18 still to be won.
Finn Heikki Kovalainen failed to finish in the second McLaren on his 27th birthday after a run onto the grass resulted in a puncture. He retired in the pits a few laps later.
Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso, who won the last two races, finished fourth for Renault.
Kubica's German team mate Nick Heidfeld was fifth, his compatriot Timo Glock seventh for Toyota and Renault's Brazilian Nelson Piquet claimed the last point in eighth.