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Page last updated at 17:09 GMT, Saturday, 31 July 2010 18:09 UK

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton defiant on F1 title hopes

Venue: Hungaroring Dates: 30 July-1 August 2010 Coverage: Comprehensive live coverage of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Full listings here

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Hungaroring

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton says his title challenge is not slipping away despite being outpaced by rivals Red Bull and Ferrari at the Hungaroring.

Hamilton leads the standings by 14 points ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix but could lose ground after qualifying in fifth place.

But he insisted: "I don't feel [the championship] is falling away from us.

"I take it race-by-race and try to get as many points as I can. I'm pushing as hard as I can."

Hamilton has led the championship since the eighth race of the season in Canada, after collecting back-to-back wins in Istanbul and Montreal.

But the 25-year-old has not topped the podium since and has found his McLaren falling further behind the Red Bulls and the now resurgent Ferrari team.

You don't really think about the championship until the moment that it really, really matters

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton was 1.7 seconds adrift of Sebastian Vettel's pole for Red Bull in Hungary and 0.168 seconds behind Felipe Massa's car which lines up just in front of his McLaren.

"Of course if we continue for the rest of the season and we are one second behind then inevitably it will be very hard for us to win the championship," Hamilton conceded.

"My determination is as high as it can be and it's the same for Jenson [Button] and Martin [Whitmarsh] and everyone in the team.

"We want to win the championship and we are doing everything in our power to win it."

Hamilton won his title two years ago by a single point at the final race of the season in Brazil.

With eight races left to run, including this Sunday's grand prix in Budapest, the Englishman says it is far too early to start thinking about his chances of winning the drivers' crown for a second time.

"You don't really think about the championship until the moment that it really, really matters," added Hamilton.

"[That is], when you are just about to win or you are just about to lose it.

"It has always been my approach. I don't think about the critical result and how that affects the championship."

Hamilton, who is leading the championship, ahead of Button, said he had done the best he could in qualifying.

McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh

McLaren fastest of fixed-wing cars - Whitmarsh

"I'm happy with today's result," he said. "I was relieved to get into Q3 - it was very close - and I feel I pulled every last drop out of the car. So I'm satisfied with the job we did.

"Obviously, we'll have to work hard again in the race, but all things considered it's a good place for us to be starting from. It's on the clean side of the track, which is a positive, and it's a long haul down to Turn One, so anything's possible.

"Our car is the best it's ever been at this circuit, and we'll stay focused. I need to get as good a start as I've been getting for the past few races, stay clean, get around the first corner and keep moving forwards after that.

"It would be great to make up some places off the grid because it's very hard to overtake around here, but we'll do the best job we can."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh praised Hamilton's effort.

"Lewis did a fantastic job to qualify immediately behind the Red Bulls and the Ferraris," Whitmarsh said. "And, in fact, had he not lost a little time on the second sector of his best lap, it's just possible that he may even have been able to pip Felipe [Massa's Ferrari] for fourth.

"Having said that, P5 puts him on the clean side of the track for the race, and you can be well sure he'll be his usual precise yet aggressive self on the initial run in to Turn One.

"Jenson was unlucky to miss out on getting through to Q3 by just 17 thousandths of a second. With hindsight, perhaps we didn't engineer him sufficient opportunity to get to grips with the option tyre."

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see also
Flying Vettel takes Hungary pole
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Qualifying pain frustrates Button
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Watch Vettel's Hungary pole lap
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Hungarian GP qualifying as it happened
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Red Bull pace concerns Massa
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Webber dissatisfied with qualifying
31 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
McLaren drivers rue lack of pace
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Bosses want change on team orders
30 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
No McLaren team orders - Hamilton
29 Jul 10 |  Formula 1

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