LEWIS Hamilton leads the 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship after finishing third in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

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FIA F1 World Championship standings after the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 45

2 Jenson Button (McLaren) 43

3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 37

4 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 36

5 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 28

6 Nico Robserg (Mercedes) 25

The 27-year-old 2008 F1 world champion from Hertfordshire claimed his third successive podium of the season today (Sunday) to edge ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button in the race for the world title.

Having started seventh on the grid, Hamilton crossed the line third at the Shanghai International Circuit to claim 15 points, giving him 45 so far this year.

That’s two more than Button, who finished runner-up in China behind maiden Mercedes AMG grand prix winner Nico Rosberg.

After a series of non-finishes last year, Stevenage-born racer Hamilton said at the start of the season that consistency would be the key to success in 2012.

"I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could."

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton

And he’s the only driver to have finished on the podium in every round of the championship after three rounds.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes also lead the constructors’ standings.

Hamilton said: “It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship – but we’ve got to remain focused.

“I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come, and I’ll keep pushing for some better results in the future.”

Sitting in the top three press conference alongside former karting colleague Rosberg, Hamilton said: “I had a great race!

“And, although neither Jenson nor I was sadly able to win, I’m really happy that Nico took his first win today, but I’m also really pleased for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team: both Jenson and I were able to get back on the podium and score some more good points.

“It was a tough race, though: I’d love to have been able to challenge Nico, and I think maybe I’d have been able to if I’d started on the front row, but we still managed to move forwards from the start. I had a lot of fun overtaking people, too.

“I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could.”

As for the McLaren MP4-27 challenger, Hamilton added: “It’s also a major positive to know that we’ve got a very consistent car.

“We just have to make sure we keep moving forwards, that’s all.

“Mercedes AMG, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber are all up there – that’s a serious championship and it’s going to make for great racing for the fans to watch.”

An agonising final pitstop dashed Button’s hopes of challenging Rosberg for victory in Shanghai.

However, the Australian GP winner took Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull in the closing laps to take the second step on the podium ahead of Hamilton.

Button said: “It’s disappointing not to have been able to challenge for the win, but it was a fun race with tons of overtaking and lots of battling.

“More important, it’s been a great day for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes because we’re now leading both world championships.

“It’s very important to be consistent, and it’s nice to be back on the podium, but there are just a couple of little things we need to improve upon to make life even better for ourselves.”

The controversial 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix takes place next Sunday.

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