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.