Lewis Hamilton has encouraged his McLaren team to continue working on the MP4-24, despite claiming the car's first win in a crushing display at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Briton's win, which came from the front once Fernando Alonso's lightly-fuelled Renault pitted early and then lost a wheel on its return, capped a laborious trek to recovery for the McLaren team, which struggled to match its usual high standards after failing to grip on the new-for-2009 regulations because of its focus on the 2008 title race.

Having suffered early-season frustrations as he found himself running in the midfield, Hamilton was finally provided with a competitive package in Germany two weeks ago, and, although he wasted that by clipping Mark Webber's car on the run to the first turn and suffering a puncture that dropped him to the rear of the field, he was back at the front throughout the Hungarian round.

"We have made some serious improvements to the car, and it is much better balanced now," he revealed, "However, even though we had fantastic pace, it could have gone either way. The wind direction could have changed and perhaps it would have suited the Ferrari or the Red Bull better than us. But everything just sort of fell into place."

The performance, while not raising expectations to high, has given Hamilton enough encouragement to believe that he and McLaren can be top three contenders until the end of the year.

"For sure, we hope that we can compete for more podiums, but we still have work to do," he pointed out, "We have just got to keep pushing. We want to keep winning - and I think we definitely deserved it after such a tough stretch of time.

"It's been hard on everyone: our new team principal and all the members of our team, but I couldn't have done it without them. They've done a fantastic job and like I said, I'm just very, very proud to be associated with them because they've never given up and they've kept pushing. We're going to continue to push and see how far we can get up in the championship.

"However, we will keep a keen eye on next year too. It is important that we just continue to push. We want to come back next year with the best possible chance of winning championships, so we need to continue to work on this year and understand everything to help us, hopefully, make a good foundation for us to work on next year."

Although he only qualified on the second row, a KERS-assisted start enabled him to get, briefly, into second before being demoted by Webber, but then powered around the outside of the Australian on lap four to take up the pursuit of Alonso.

"It was very close," Hamilton said of the opening corner, "I didn't really get a fantastic start initially, being on the dirty side, and Kimi [Raikkonen] seemed to get an incredible start. He was up alongside me and I seemed to level off with him once I was on the KERS - we were both on KERS, I think. I don't think he saw me, but he was behind Mark and moved to the right to go past him and we nearly touched. I went to the right and fortunately Sebastian gave me enough space, so there was no collision there."

There was also no contact when the world champion attacked Webber several laps later, Hamilton praising his rival for doing what he could to ensure both cars survived.

"I'd actually used all my KERS down the straight because I thought that I'd be able to get him in turn one," the Briton revealed, "He blocked, so I went to the outside, and, while I think I may have used KERS a little bit at the beginning [of the run to turn two], I ran out.

"Mark was in my blind spot eventually, so I couldn't really see him, but I gave him plenty of room and, eventually, I saw him fade into the back. It was quite a straightforward move but, clearly, Mark was very smart. He's got to score points and there's no real point in him taking silly risks.

"As for me, I needed to get past him. I was absolutely surprised to see that I was even able to keep up with him, but I was able to go past him and still pull away whilst looking after my tyres, so it was good."

Despite the controversial technology looking set to be ignored for 2010, Hamilton's win was the first for a KERS-equipped car, and he spoke warmly about the McLaren system.

You know, KERS is working very well - the whole package was fantastic but, for once, I was able to really use KERS to my advantage today, so that was good," he revealed, "You're always traction-limited, so it's better with lots of long straights - and I think, here, you could always see that my sector one [time] has been the strongest all weekend, largely due to KERS on the main straight. There's such a long stretch down to turn one, a bit like in Germany, it gives us a great opportunity to take a few places."


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