Hamilton praises team's persistance (UK only)
Lewis Hamilton claimed he and McLaren were surprised at being able to record their first win of a challenging season at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Leading 2009 teams Brawn GP and Red Bull had left the world champion and his British team struggling to compete but recent upgrades are now paying off.
"We didn't expect to win this weekend," Hamilton, 24, told BBC Sport.
"We have caught up quite a bit but we didn't think we had the pace to win. It's incredibly special."
McLaren - second in the 2008 constructors' championship - started the season with a car that often left Hamilton bemoaning its lack of downforce as he struggled to finish in the points in most races.
But a new front wing, diffuser and engine cover, introduced at the last race in Germany, have improved the car's pace by about 0.8 seconds a lap.
Hamilton, who qualified in fourth, maximised that improved performance with a smooth drive to clinch the 10th grand prix win of his career - and his first podium finish of this season - ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Mark Webber at the Hungaroring.
"It's a huge turnaround," he admitted. "But we said at the beginning of the season that if anyone can do this, it's us.
"If we had this car at the beginning of season we would be winning. We always said we were six months behind the top guys.
"I hope the guys back at the factory get a good break these next few weeks. It was only a race ago, when we were in Germany, that I first had a little bit of excitement about the car."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the English driver, who used his Kers energy storage and power-boost system to challenge Renault's pole-sitter Fernando Alonso and the Red Bull cars from the start, refused to get carried away.
Classic F1 - Hungarian Grand Prix 2009 (UK users only)
"We need to take as much as we can from this weekend and continue pushing," he stated.
"We have some work to do to be able to beat these guys on a regular basis but it is one huge leap for us.
"Clearly, we've got a good car and we've made some serious improvements but even though we had a fantastic car today it could have gone either way.
"Everything fell into place today. We hope we can compete for more podiums but we still have work to do."
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said the team would have a further upgrade package ready for the next race - the European Grand Prix in Valencia on 23 August - and that they expected to be able to compete at the front again.
"I think we're going to be strong there," he added. "But we have to improve our high-speed performance to be strong in Spa. So we have to keep pushing.
"But, for the team, it is a great reward for a lot of hard work.
"It has been a very difficult year. We don't like not winning and we want to win some more.
"We have been out of the championship hunt. But we can have a big impact on the championship now because we can take points from anyone and we want to go out and win some races.
"Today we were clearly dominant. From lap 20 Lewis was saying, 'shout me the lap time you want me to do and I'll do it, this is easy'. He was in great form - and that happens when you're in the groove."