Lewis Hamilton boosts Formula 1 title challenge with Hungarian Grand Prix win


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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton breathed new life into his Formula 1 title challenge as he held off the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton resisted late pressure from Kimi Raikkonen to win the Hungarian Grand Prix from lights to flag - and said: "It's good to be back."

While Hamilton launched his McLaren from pole position, and made what he described as "the best start I've had all year", Raikkonen started fifth in his Lotus and lost a place to championship leader Fernando Alonso, which forced him to lap behind the Ferrari for his first stint and conserve his tyres.

Raikkonen had a problem with his KERS, which failed at the start of the race and only later returned at 50% power.

Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean, who started second, put initial pressure on Hamilton before pitting on lap 19 and losing a second during his stop due to a slow-rear tyre fit.

Raikkonen profited from the various pitstops and rose to fourth on a long 26-lap stint on soft tyres before repitting for mediums on lap 46 - six laps after Grosjean, and five after Hamilton.

The Finn exited the pits just as Grosjean, who had been held up by a backmarker, came screaming down the main straight, which caused their engineers to sweat as they went through turn one side by side.

Raikkonen had little choice but to force Grosjean wide in order to steal the racing line and hunt Hamilton.

He was soon within a second of the Englishman, but the McLaren driver was able to eke out faster third sectors. There were no other opportunities for the Lotus to pass.

Hamilton, whose championship hopes were reignited after he retired at Hockenheim last time out, said: "(Lotus) were unbelievably rapid.

"At another circuit, with more overtaking opportunities, perhaps the result would have been different.

"If they had qualified at the front it would have been impossible to get past them.

"This weekend shows it's all to play for still.

"After some bad races it's good to be back."

Raikkonen, by contrast, was unimpressed by his fifth podium finish of the year.

He has yet to climb the top step and cited qualifying as the main issue.

He said: "We came second and it's not enough.

"We keep making it very hard for ourselves in qualifying. But it's a long season and there will probably be another time.

"I've been in the business long enough that I don't worry about it too much."

Grosjean held on to third ahead of Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, who made a third pitstop without losing a place and charged back to attack the Lotus on fresh softs - but to no avail.

Alonso finished fifth to calmly protect his championship lead on a tough day for Ferrari.

There is now a five-week lull before the Belgian Grand Prix - a break which has been welcomed by Hamilton.

He said: "I think the summer break will be important, mentally and physically. But we must know we have a lot of work to do.

"Fernando still got 10 points, but if we can stay like this and be consistent we can close the gap."

For a while it looked like main title rival Mark Webber would trim a little off Alonso's points cushion.

The Australian jumped from 11th to seventh on the first lap, then got ahead of Alonso at the second stops.

Making a third tyre stop cost Webber, however, and he fell to eighth.

Jenson Button's three-stop plan was also unsuccessful, as his second stop left him trapped behind Bruno Senna.

He got back in front of the Brazilian in the final tyre changes then chased Alonso home in sixth.

Hamilton moves one point ahead of Raikkonen to fourth, with 117 points in the championship standings.

Alonso stretches his lead over Webber with 164 points to the Australian's 124. Vettel remains third with 122, but closed the gap on his team-mate.

Hamilton was particular satisfied with the outcome, with this triumph coinciding with the first weekend of the Olympic Games in London.

He said: "It does feel extra special with the Olympics starting, and I wish all the teams the best

"I feel like I've done my little bit today (for Team GB) - even though we're not in the Olympics."