Mark Webber insisted that he is still 'positive' about his title chances despite Red Bull Racing being beaten into third place in the 2009 F1 pecking order in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix - as the Australian nevertheless reduced the gap to long-time world championship leader Jenson Button to under 20 points.

Whilst Button and Brawn GP surprisingly struggled around the Hungaroring - a circuit that on paper should have suited the BGP 001 down to the ground - Red Bull remained at the front of the field, only they found themselves joined there by heavy-hitters McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari, traditional 'grandees' who have been uncharacteristically absent from the battle for much of the season.

Still, Webber looked to be in strong form to shine, making a good getaway from third on the grid to stave off an assault from reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton into the first corner, but when his British rival found a way past only a handful of laps later it soon became clear that RBR's Hungarian form was not quite so imperious as had been the case at Silverstone and the N?rburgring in previous weeks.

Following early leader Fernando Alonso's retirement, the man from Queanbeyan inherited second place back, but he swiftly lost it again during a calamitous first pit-stop when a delay was followed by Webber's pit crew releasing him into the path of the Ferrari of 2007 title-winner Kimi Raikkonen, though fortunately contact was narrowly averted.

On the harder of the two Bridgestone tyre compounds for the middle stint as most of the drivers around him plumped for the softer variety - 'my call', he candidly confesses - the 32-year-old subsequently slipped into the clutches of ex-Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen in the second McLaren, and though he would remain ahead following the second round of stops, the damage had been done. A valiant late charge on the softer runner brought him back to barely five seconds adrift of runner-up Raikkonen at the chequered flag, but ultimately it was a case of too little, too late.

"I expected us to be a little bit quicker after our running on Friday," the New South Wales native mused, "but to be honest we expected these guys (McLaren and Ferrari) to be around us. We knew it would be a more difficult venue for us and that we wouldn't have the advantage that we maybe had at the last two events so, all-in-all, I'm happy to get the result we did today.

"I think we would have had a better chance to fight with Kimi if we'd made a slightly different pit-stop and chosen a different tyre for the middle stint, but that was my call. I was worried about how long the middle stint was, so it was quite difficult to know which tyre to put on.

"Overall we still have a lot of positives to take away from here - we're still up there, we're in the hunt and [we] know that we can take our car to a lot of venues and be competitive. Red Bull and Renault have a lot to be proud of, we're still a strong force and it's a positive day."

It was a less positive day, by contrast, for team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who was tagged by Raikkonen on the exit of turn one after the Finn got briefly out-of-shape, and after spending the opening stint down in seventh the damage to his suspension from the touch in the end consigned the young German to an early bath less than halfway through, and saw him cede second place in the drivers' standings to Webber.

"I had a collision in the first corner with Kimi," reported the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner. "I was on the inside and had a clear run to accelerate, his car came sideways and we touched - he crashed into my car; it can happen. This was why my first pit-stop was bad and, at some point, the front-left suspension gave up and we had to retire the car.

"We knew it would be close with the other teams here, but at the start of the race there's nothing you can do other than putting your foot down. We have a button on our steering wheel, which is similar to the other teams, but nothing happens if you press it. You go into the first corner and you have five or six cars next to each other instead of three or four, so it's a different situation. There are still a few races left this season and the race is still on, so we will see what we can do."

Indeed, though the result failed to match up to recent expectations - with just six points this weekend as compared to the 18 that had been notched up in both Britain and Germany - nonetheless that was four more than Brawn tallied, meaning the gap in both championships continues to come down. Heading into the summer break it is, affirms the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner, very much game on.

"A good drive from Mark today for third," underlined the Englishman, a former racer himself. "Unfortunately, we perhaps gave away too much time in the middle stint on the harder tyre and a small issue at Mark's pit-stop allowed Kimi to jump ahead, but I think Lewis was out of reach today. Nonetheless, a good result for Mark in both the drivers' and constructors' Championships.

"For Sebastian, things just didn't go his way today - unfortunately a knock on the first lap looks as though it caused suspension damage that resulted in his retirement. Going into the break, we've closed the gap in the constructors' and we're looking forward to the next race in four weeks time in Valencia."

"A difficult race," added Fabrice Lom, chief track support engineer for RBR engine-supplier Renault." Our cars made very good starts, but the long run to the first corner meant the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) cars were stronger and unfortunately we lost some places. Sebastian had an accident, which caused damage that forced him to retire. Mark had a solid race, in which tyres played a big role. We finished third and scored more points than Brawn, so in the end a good result for the team, but a disappointing result for Sebastian."


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