McLaren Hail 'Champion' Raikkonen

McLaren trumpeted Kimi Raikkonen as a champion in the making on Sunday after the Finn won the Hungarian Grand Prix to revive his title hopes

McLaren Hail 'Champion' Raikkonen

Even if Renault's Fernando Alonso remains the favourite with a 26-point lead and just six races remaining, despite failing to score a point at the Hungaroring, Raikkonen vowed to turn the screw on the Spaniard.

He warned Alonso, who finished 11th after colliding with Toyota's Ralf Schumacher at the first corner, to expect a determined McLaren offensive.

"It definitely looks better again and there are still six races to go and if we can do these kinds of results, and maybe something happens to him (Alonso), we can definitely still fight for the Championship," said the Finn.

"And that is what we are going to do."

The odds remain stacked against Raikkonen, with Alonso needing only to finish third in every race to be the sport's youngest champion, but the McLaren driver hoped he could keep the momentum going.

After three agonising retirements while leading this season, Sunday's race was impeccable from his perspective, even if Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya retired with a suspected broken driveshaft while in the lead this time.

"That was a great drive by Kimi. He is clearly a champion in the making," said McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

The Mercedes-powered team made the right tyre choices, while Renault and rivals BAR got it wrong, and their car was also clearly quicker than the rest.

"We are going to do the best we can and hopefully we can close the gap in the next two races, then push as hard as we can and try to catch them," said Raikkonen.

The Finn started on the second row, after going out first in qualifying, and admitted afterwards he had taken a gamble on fuel loads by running lighter with a three-stop strategy.

"We knew we would be penalised a lot starting first and it paid off," he said. "I am pretty happy, we had a very good car.

"I was stuck behind Michael (Schumacher) halfway through the race, then I had one lap longer (after the German pitted) and passed him and we were away and that was it."

Team boss Ron Dennis apologised to Montoya but was delighted for Raikkonen.

"The Championship is back within our sights, even if the challenge is still significant," he said.

 

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