15:12, 30 July 2012
15:12, 30 July 2012
McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh believes Lewis Hamilton can launch a title assault after storming to victory in Sunday’s Hungary Prix.
McLaren have bounced back impressively from a worrying slump of form at Valencia and Silverstone with strong performances in Germany, where Jenson Button finished second, and at the Hungaroring.
Despite his well-judged win, which saw him fend off pressure from Lotus team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton remains 47 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso.
On top: Hamilton stormed to victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix
In the constructors’ standings McLaren have moved up to second place, 53 points adrift of Red Bull.
And, boosted by the team’s 178th victory, Whitmarsh believes they are now firmly in the title picture as F1′s month-long summer break gets under way.
He told the team’s official website: ‘The 25 points Lewis has annexed here have taken his season-so-far total to 117.
‘Although he’s still a little way behind the drivers’ world championship leader, he’s now very well placed to mount an assault on the drivers’ world championship crown over the remaining nine races of the season. Believe me, it’s still all up for grabs.
Over the line: Hamilton is 47 points adrift of Alonso in the championship
‘In the constructors’ world championship, the 33 points that Lewis and Jenson scored have lifted Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to second place overall.
‘Again, as with the drivers’ world championship, we’re in a good position from which to work as hard as is humanly possible to close the gap on the leaders and wrest the constructors’ laurels by season’s end.
‘We’ll now take our holidays, we’ll recharge our batteries, and we’ll return at Spa-Francorchamps in a month’s time, fighting fit and ready to do battle once again.’
While Hamilton took the spoils, second-placed Raikkonen’s future was in the spotlight following yet another impressive drive from the Finn.
Sealed with a kiss: The British driver has won two races this year
Rumours have linked the 2007 world champion with a return to Ferrari, with Felipe Massa said to be on his way out, and he did not rule out the possibility.
But Lotus boss Eric Boullier is confident Raikkonen will remain with the Enstone-based operation in 2013.
He told Finnish broadcaster MTV3: ‘There are always a lot of rumours.
‘We have a two-year contract with Kimi but, as in every agreement, there are always options.