Formula One: Lewis Hamilton hopeful of challenge for title after victory at Hungarian Grand Prix

The victory was his first since moving to Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton is hopeful he has taken the first step on the road to a potential Formula One title tilt over the second half of the year.

Hamilton conjured a victory drive in yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix described by Mercedes' non-executive chairman and three-times world champion Niki Lauda as the best he has seen from the 28-year-old.

It was Hamilton's first for Mercedes at the 10th attempt following his move from McLaren, the 22nd of his F1 career, and remarkably his fourth in seven years around the Hungaroring.

With Sebastian Vettel third behind Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton has now closed the gap to Red Bull's triple world champion to 48 points.

With Mercedes finally appearing to have cracked their tyre problems, Hamilton may prove to be Vettel's closest challenger after the summer break that now beckons.

Assessing his chances, Hamilton said: "When you have a win like this you get excited and think anything is possible.

"Obviously this race shows anything is possible, but it's still too early to say we can challenge.

"I know the guys are working hard to close the gap, and I hope this is the first step in doing so.

"But we've a lot of tough races coming up. I just hope that's not the last time my tyres work for me.

"If we can be quick at this track and make our tyres last with the temperatures we experienced then we should be able to do it anywhere, so fingers crossed."

Mercedes had previously proved inept at making Pirelli's rubber work for them during races, particularly in the heat.

In yesterday's race the mercury hit 35 degrees centigrade, whilst track temperatures soared to 50, and from the 30th pole Hamilton should have been a sitting duck for those behind.

But the new construction of Pirelli tyres that debuted in the race and marry last year's construction with this season's compounds appear to have had an effect.

Even so, Hamilton added: "I really wasn't expecting it (the win).

"I talked it down a lot after qualifying because I was expecting a real tough race. I thought we were going to fall behind.

"The experiences I had at McLaren were some of my greatest, but this is one of the highlights of my career up to now, one of the most important wins.

"Moving to a new team, one that was struggling massively last year, and to finally get a win with them after the first 10 races is a great feeling."

 



Behind the top three, Red Bull's Mark Webber was fourth, with Fernando Alonso fifth in his Ferrari and now 39 points adrift of Vettel, as well as a point behind Lotus' Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean was sixth in his Lotus, that after incurring a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage in passing Felipe Massa by running off the circuit.

Grosjean also had 20 seconds added to his time post race for causing a collision with McLaren's Jenson Button, who was seventh, yet that made no difference to his finishing position.

Behind Button was Massa in his Ferrari, the second McLaren of Sergio Perez, with Pastor Maldonado 10th, giving Williams their first point of the season.

Force India's Paul Di Resta suffered a miserable weekend, with the Scot retiring with a hydraulics problem, as did team-mate Adrian Sutil, whilst Marussia's Max Chilton was 17th.

PA

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