He may have been outpaced by Formula 1 World Championship leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying in Budapest, but Heikki Kovalainen has promised to push all-out to defeat the Briton and secure the maiden victory of his fledgling career in the top flight in the Hungarian Grand Prix today.

Kovalainen hauled himself up onto the front row of the starting grid with his final flying effort in Q3, ultimately winding up 0.241s shy of the top spot after sitting a lowly ninth for most of Q3.

Though there have been suggestions of late that he has now been consigned to a mere supporting role in Hamilton's title bid given the 30-point gap separating the pair in the drivers' standings - and his seemingly having moved aside for the sister MP4-23 at both Silverstone and Hockenheim in the last two outings - the Finn insisted his aim for race day was simple - victory.

"I'll attack as much as I can at the start and we will see how it works out," he underlined. "Ideally I can push Lewis and keep Felipe [Massa] behind me. I will fight with Lewis, try to pass him, and of course he will try to defend.

"We will respect each other because at the end of the day we are employed by the team, and we will try to do our best for the team. Like you saw at the start at Silverstone, we do race, but we also know where the limit is, and that's how it is for all the guys at the top of Formula 1 - you can push people hard and you race hard but fair. There's nothing wrong with that."

McLaren-Mercedes has yet to notch up a one-two finish in 2008 - indeed the habitually luckless Kovalainen has not now tasted podium champagne since the Malaysian Grand Prix all the way back in April following a run of ill-fortune - and the Silver Arrows' front row lock-out at the Hungaroring marks the team's first since Monza last year.

Though Kovalainen will be beginning the race from the dirtier, and theoretically slower, side of the grid - the legacy of a slightly 'cautious' approach on his fastest lap in Q3 - he remains hopeful of a strong challenge once the starting lights go out.

"It's not ideal," the 26-year-old mused, "but it's better to be ahead of the other people. To be honest, as we saw at Hockenheim, I was expecting it to make a bigger difference but it didn't, so I hope that's the case here as well. I'm not going to stress myself about it.

"I think our pace has been so strong all weekend, I think we are as strong as our competitors and I feel comfortable with our strategy. The team has pushed really hard to improve our car and we've made significant steps forward in the last couple of months. I think we've found a good direction where we need to go in terms of development.

"The car has been feeling strong the last few races, and we have been improving the package more and more since the last test and all the way through the weekend, so it was just a matter of nailing it in qualifying.

"It was difficult to choose the right tyre. I was planning to use the softer one with the heavier fuel load in the last part of qualifying, but we changed our minds when everyone else went quicker with the harder tyre, and maybe with the conditions changing the harder tyre was the favourite.

"I think I was a little bit cautious in turn two [on his final lap in Q3]. It was tricky to find the right balance in terms of making the time at the entry and not losing anything at the exit. I think I probably lost a bit of both on my best lap, but the middle of the corner was pretty good.

"You always lose and gain and everyone has these little moments, and overall I think I can be quite happy about the lap - there were no big mistakes, just small adjustments. All the drivers after every qualifying always say 'you can do this and that', but actually doing it is the tricky bit.

"Of course, I would always prefer to be on pole, but to be honest Lewis has been strong all week here. For the last few races he's been strong [and] he did a better job here, but I think I'm still in a good position and we should have a good opportunity to have a strong race as well.

"It was a great effort from everybody and a great result for the team, and tomorrow should be an interesting race. I think we are going to see the circuit evolving towards the end of the race. It is going to get grippier and grippier and the off-line is going to get dirtier, so we just can't put a wheel off the line. That is going to be crucial."


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