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Page last updated at 19:59 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 20:59 UK
Hungarian Grand Prix
Hungaroring, 1-3 August, 2008

Lewis Hamilton in Hungary
Hamilton has a five-point lead in the drivers' standings

Lewis Hamilton was upbeat about his title chances despite describing the Hungarian GP as one of his worst.

Hamilton started on pole but was overtaken by Ferrari's Felipe Massa before a puncture saw him have to settle for a fifth-place finish.

"It was probably one of my worst races," Hamilton said. "But we've come away still looking pretty good.

"At least I scored four points and maintained my lead in the championship so I can't complain."

Hamilton had arrived at the Hungaroring full of confidence after back-to-back victories at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

And after taking pole in Budapest with an excellent display in qualifying, the Englishman said he felt at his best - but his edge was blunted by Massa's ambush at the start of the race.

Hamilton tried to chase down the Brazilian but a puncture on lap 41 saw him drop from second to 11th before he climed back up to sixth place.

Massa was poised to leapfrog the McLaren driver at the top of the standings until his engine let him down just three laps from home.

The misfortune handed Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen a maiden victory and moved Hamilton up to fifth to extend his lead at the top of the drivers' standings to five points with seven races remaining.

"It was not as bad as it could have been, and not as good either," said Hamilton.

"It's just unfortunate I was the one to get a puncture, and it was a case of 'oh no, not again'.

"I had it several times last year and that's what lost me the championship.

"But my lead is bigger now, and you would never have thought that with all that has gone on this year."

The drivers will resume their rivalry at the European Grand Prix in Valencia in three weeks' time, but with little to separate McLaren and Ferrari both teams will be working hard on improvements.

"It was a tough day and one we'll probably learn from," added Hamilton. "I think there's something we can take from this.

The race just shows you how close it's going to be until the end of the season

Heikki Kovalainen
"Ferrari were strong, although if we had been out in front then it perhaps would have been a little different.

"But they showed some really strong pace, which we knew they had. It's just you guys (the media) that seem to think there is a huge difference."

Kovalainen was also delighted to maintain McLaren's momentum after taking his first chequered flag in Hungary.

The Finn was running behind Massa before the Ferrari driver ground to a halt in the closing stages.

And Kovalainen, who made his debut for Renault in 2007 before partnering Hamilton at McLaren, motored to victory after a season of missed opportunities.

"It was a long wait," said Kovalainen. "We had a little bit of luck on our side but it doesn't feel any worse.

"The team knew the potential was there but we just haven't been able to nail it on a Sunday.

"But we just kept our focus, worked logically to improve and we're heading in the right direction.

Heikki Kovalainen holds his Hungarian Grand Prix prize
Kovalainen tops the podium for the first time after 28 races
"[The race] just shows you how close it's going to be until the end of the season and we just have to keep pushing our development.

"We have new parts coming all the time and I'm confident we will be able to join the fight - but it will be close all the time."

It was ironic that Kovalainen's win came after McLaren team boss Ron Dennis reiterated his team's commitment to driver equality at the scene of last season's bust-up between then team-mates Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

This time Dennis celebrated Kovalainen's win on the team radio, saying; "Welcome to the world of winning."

He added: "Heikki drove superbly, scoring his first victory in fine style and converting his excellent qualifying pace, which has been apparent all season, into a thoroughly well deserved win.

"From Lewis's perspective, as bad days go, it could have been a lot worse.

"But it was Heikki's day - and a very good day it was."

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see also
Massa expects Ferrari improvement
31 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton to keep attacking style
30 Jul 08 |  Formula One
McLaren keep Kovalainen for 2009
31 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hill backs Hamilton title claims
27 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton fights back for victory
20 Jul 08 |  Formula One

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