Mon, Aug 06, 2007 - Page 20 News List

F1: Hamilton extends lead in Hungary

AFP, BUDAPEST

British McLaren Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton drives in front of Finnish Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen during the early stages of the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring racetrack near Budapest yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Lewis Hamilton somehow blocked out the twin distractions of a qualifying controversy and in-fighting at his McLaren team to win yesterday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hamilton started from pole position after his teammate Fernando Alonso was demoted five grid positions for obstructing the rookie Englishman in qualifying.

Alonso had seemingly snatched pole with a last-gasp flying lap but the race stewards judged that he had acted improperly in delaying Hamilton and denying him a chance to respond.

Hamilton took full advantage of his improved grid position, driving a mistake-free race to hold Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to second and claim a victory that extends his driver's championship lead to seven points.

If history is anything to go by Hamilton will now go on to win the driver's title, only twice in the last 15 years has a driver leading the championship at this stage been beaten to the crown.

The 22-year-old was understandably delighted on the podium; his third grand prix win was undoubtedly his most important so far.

Nick Heidfeld of BMW was third with Alonso fourth just ahead of Poland's Robert Kubica in the other BMW.

The remaining point scorers were Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher in sixth, Nico Rosberg of Williams in seventh and Heikki Kovalainen of Renault in eighth.

Felipe Massa, currently fourth in the championship, had an unhappy weekend, finishing 13th.

The race started in bright sunshine and Hamilton made a clean getaway ahead of normally fast-starting Heidfeld.

On this occasion Heidfeld struggled off the grid and was immediately passed by Raikkonen who slotted in behind the leader.

Raikkonen put Hamilton under intense pressure throughout the closing stages of the race but the 22-year-old showed great maturity to hang on and win by just over a second.

It was McLaren's 154th grand prix win and their sixth of the season. However the team's joy will be tinged by the reality that, unless they win an appeal against the action the FIA has taken against them for the qualifying debacle, they will not be awarded any constructor's championship points from the race.

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