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Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Friday, 30 July 2010 17:59 UK

McLaren 'massively down' on pace, says Lewis Hamilton

Fernando Alonso

Highlights - Hungarian GP second practice

by Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at the Hungaroring

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button conceded they were facing damage limitation after McLaren were badly off the pace in Friday practice.

Hamilton, who leads the title race from Button, was 1.221 seconds slower than Red Bull pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.

"We are massively down," said Hamilton. "It's about scoring what points we can and hoping those ahead have trouble."

World champion Button added: "Red Bull seem to be in a league of their own but Ferrari are strong too."

McLaren had hoped Hungary's high-downforce circuit would be better suited to their car than Germany's Hockenheim, where Hamilton finished fourth and Button fifth last Sunday behind the Ferraris and Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren not fast enough - Hamilton

However the Britons found they could not match their rivals for one-lap pace in practice, and know they face little prospect of closing the gap in qualifying.

Red Bull have captured 10 poles this season, while Ferrari rediscovered their form in Hockenheim to take a one-two finish.

"We're not fast enough," said Hamilton, who leads the drivers' championship by 13 points with nine races left.

"It seems like [I'm losing time] everywhere, it really does. When you start to push more to close the gap, then the car really starts to be on the ragged edge.

Jenson Button

Button looking for improvement

"They've got faster and we've not made any steps in the last couple of weekends, so it's tough. There is always time to find but to try and find a second in the middle sector is virtually impossible.

"We'll just try and edge out as much as we can but to be in the top five could be tough."

Button said he struggled to get the softer tyres - on which teams usually set their fastest laps - to work properly at the Hungaroring. He also found his 'hot' laps hampered by traffic.

But the 2009 champion was not looking for excuses after finding himself 1.643 seconds off Vettel's fastest lap of one minute, 20.087 seconds.

"If we can get into the top five in qualifying we should be very happy with that," Button said.

"I don't see how we can beat the Ferraris or the Red Bulls in qualifying.

"The conditions may be different on Saturday, and we may see a step forward in performance, but at the moment the Ferraris and Red Bulls are strong. Hopefully we can challenge everyone else."

In the search for an explanation as to why Red Bull are in a class of their own over one lap, attention has turned to the front wing which Red Bull introduced for the first time at the British Grand Prix two races ago.

The wing appears to be flexible, dipping lower on the straights before riding up again around the corners to alter the air flow around the car.

Button says this feature is likely to be part of the reason behind Red Bull's dominant pace, but that the full secrets of the RB6 are still unknown.

"I'm guessing they're benefiting from it as they are seriously quick," said Button.

"There are a few things on their car that we don't understand how they work, but they are giving them good performance.

"This is what we've got at the moment and we have to do the best job we can and hope that after the summer break we get some good improvements for [the next race in] Spa."

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Hungarian GP first practice

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see also
McLaren query Red Bull front wing
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel heads Alonso in practice
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Hungarian Grand Prix practice results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Hungarian GP practice photos
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Hungarian GP practice as it happened
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1

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