Hamilton: Still all to play for
Championship aspirations given critical fillip by victory in Hungary
Last Updated: 30/07/12 9:46am
Lewis Hamilton has conceded he has plenty of work still to do if he is to challenge for the World Championship but insisted that a title tilt is still possible after winning in Hungary.
Despite his weekend of dominance around the Hungaroring culminating in a nervy but priceless victory ahead of the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, the 2008 World Champion still trails Fernando Alonso by forty-seven points in the standings - almost the equivalent of two race wins.
Yet with the McLaren's vast improvement made plain in Hungary, with Hamilton topping the timesheets of every single session with the exception of Practice Three, what seemed almost impossible now looks distinctly possible. Asked by Sky Sports F1 if he nows believes he can win this year's World Championship, a guarded Hamilton responded:
"We still have a big gap and Fernando, the Red Bulls and the Lotuses are still quick. So we've got to keep working. We've still got to improve, but we've proved this week that there is still all to play for.
"I'm very mindful that there is still a long way to go, but this just shows that the season isn't over yet."
Sky F1's Martin Brundle was more emphatic on the revitalisation of Hamilton's title chances.
"Even under pressure, Lewis didn't falter. It was a champion's drive and he has brought himself back into play for the championship. It's still a long shot but it's absolutely possible. He's back in the hunt."
Hamilton's victory has also strengthened the expectation that he will elect to extend his stay with McLaren by signing a new deal during the August break. But the 27-year-old seems determined to remain circumspect on his plans.
"It is a promising team," he joked. "We've got the break and we'll see what happens. But there's no rush and the most important thing is that the guys back at the factory have been given this boost to know that they are on the right path."
The unprecedented five-week break between races includes a period of two weeks in which all teams have to shut down their factories, but Hamilton doesn't believe the enforced holiday period will compromise McLaren's recent upward swing.
He says it is important the whole team enjoys their time off and then is ready to come back and continue making improvements to the MP4-27.
"It's not frustrating at all. It's quite nice to go into the break knowing that we had a win," he said.
"Every year that we've done that it's been a great feeling. I think it's very very very important how we manage the summer break, mentally and physically, but we've clearly still got a lot of work to do.
"We should obviously take from this a pat on the back for a great job from everyone but we must know that we still have a lot of work to do. These guys [Lotus] were absolutely rapid in the race. If we're going to stay ahead of these... if they were to have qualified at the front, it would have been impossible to have got past them.
"So we need to remain focused and of course enjoy the break. This will carry on and the guys will carry this for the next week or so, I'm sure, back at the factory. Guys were wearing their team tops and hopefully we still have good pace and hopefully even more when we come back."