Fernando Alonso was left to reflect on an opportunity lost in Hungary after his qualifying penalty proved key in him dropping five points to Formula 1 title rival - and McLaren team-mate - Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso had qualified on pole position at the Hungaroring but was then demoted to sixth late on Saturday evening when race stewards decided that he had impeded Hamilton during qualifying by blocking the young charger in pitlane to ensure he couldn't have a final run at the top spot on the grid.

With Hamilton then inheriting pole as a result, Alonso was faced with a battle to try and minimise any loss to the Briton at a circuit where overtaking is far from easy and so it proved, as he spent much of the racing staring at the back of the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher. Ultimately a chance in strategy, which saw the Spaniard 'go long' in his second stint, enabled him to jump ahead of the German but despite closing on Nick Heidfeld in the closing stages he could do no better than fourth at the flag - putting him seven points behind Hamilton heading to the next race in Turkey.

"I am quite pleased with the race today which was a difficult one," he said. "The maximum we could have reached from sixth position on the grid was a podium finish - especially on this circuit which is comparable to Monaco in terms of overtaking opportunities. This didn't work out in the end, but fourth is better than fifth and at the final stage of the race I did not push too much to save my engine for the Turkish Grand Prix.

"Without the penalty after yesterday's qualifying the victory would have been possible today as you can see on my lap times when I had a clear track. I am now seven points behind Lewis. The fight for the championship is still open and I will try my best to close the gap."

With the qualifying row making all the headlines over the weekend, even pushing the on-going 'spy row' to one side, it was a weekend when the McLaren squad came under further scrutiny, with team boss Ron Dennis admitting that it tested the resolve of his entire team.

"A weekend full of stress and emotion," a drained Dennis admitted. "The issues that faced us, not just this weekend but also in the previous month, has tested the resolve of the whole team. It's at these times that you have to stay true to your principles and values.

"We will take the time between now and the Turkish Grand Prix to continue to develop the car and strive to maintain our winning streak. Both drivers did great jobs in different but very difficult circumstances."

 

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