Lewis Hamilton insists he has not yet given up on retaining his driver's world title
Lewis Hamilton insists he can enjoy a strong end to the 2009 Formula 1 season despite a desperate first half.
The Briton's defence of his world title was effectively ended by McLaren's early-season car, which was labelled by BBC pundit Eddie Jordan as a "dog".
However, mid-season upgrades saw the 24-year-old record a first win of the season in Hungary, and he is optimistic of a late-season push for points.
"We'll be among the frontrunners in the last five races, I think," he said.
"We've got a low-downforce package for Monza and some more upgrades ahead of Singapore, so I think we'll be in the hunt."
Hamilton's victory in Hungary in July was his first since the 2008 China Grand Prix and marked a remarkable turnaround in McLaren's fortunes after an early season that had been beset by car problems.
I know it sounds crazy, but I'm not going to put the title out of my mind until I know that it's mathematically impossible
Martin Whitmarsh's team had not managed a podium before that win, but a series of improvements to the MP4-24, including the front wing, diffuser and engine cover, has seen McLaren back among the quickest cars on the grid.
Hamilton followed victory in Hungary with second spot at the European Grand Prix, although their Belgian Grand Prix was ruined last time out when a collision saw him crash out on the first lap.
But despite that blip, the Briton, who is 45 points off drivers' leader Jenson Button with five races remaining, is confident he can challenge the likes of constructor championship leaders Brawn GP and Red Bull in the home stretch of the title race.
"I know I've been very lucky: for the past two seasons, I've been in with a shot at the championship right until the end of the last race of the season, so, obviously, this year feels a bit different," he said.
"But it's been fun to just push like crazy and try and get the maximum result from the car at each race, rather than looking at stringing together a more consistent title bid.
"It means we can keep attacking everywhere, and I think that the last five races should be good for us for a lot of different reasons.
"I might have missed out at Spa, but I really want to win Monza and see how competitive we'll be in the flyaways. The five remaining races are a great mix of circuits and I'm looking forward to all of them."
And Hamilton is refusing to give up on retaining his title, even though he needs to win all the remaining races and hope his rivals do not get enough points.
"I'll still be going for it, trying to get every single point I can.
"I know it sounds crazy, but I'm not going to put the title out of my mind until I know that it's mathematically impossible.
"(However), the most important thing is that we keep learning from this year's car so we can make next year's into a winner."