Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Game on Now ( Kimi

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Game on Now ( Kimi

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alastair Moffitt

Kimi Raikkonen has vowed to take his world championship battle down to the wire after a crucial victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring yesterday.

The Finn has been beset by bad luck in recent weeks and arrived in Budapest trailing Renault rival Fernando Alonso by 36 points, conceding he needed a miracle to keep his hopes alive.

His prayers were answered when Alonso lost his car's front wing on the first lap and trailed home in 11th, out of the points.

Raikkonen took full advantage by setting a blistering pace to win by more than half a minute from world champion Michael Schumacher, slashing Alonso's championship lead by 10 points.

The McLaren driver, who lost a certain win last weekend in Germany, tasted the victory champagne with a new-found optimism that a maiden title could yet be within reach.

He said: "For sure it looks better now than the last race. But we have just been unlucky. We always seem to throw away 10 points and he gets it, then we get it back. It's just like going backwards and forwards every time. There are still six races. If we get this kind of result and something happens to him, we can still fight for the championship and that's what we hope to do."

Raikkonen's McLaren team have come under pressure after a string of mechanical failures which have undermined his title challenge.

But the 25-year-old revealed their quick thinking inspired his win after a change of pit-stop strategy helped him get ahead of Schumacher's Ferrari.

"Luckily we chose different tactics and the team did a great job. We changed it ( it was the best time to stop the second time. They made a great change.

"I had a very good car. If I had needed to push the car I could have gone quite a bit quicker but there was no point."

Schumacher was left to rue that tactical defeat, admitting Ferrari threw away victory by bringing him into the pits a lap before Raikkonen.

The two were forced to second-guess each other's fuel plans, with whoever stayed out longer before a second stop destined to seize a crucial advantage. I knew when he was out one lap longer there was not much I could do," Schumacher said.

"I could just drive it home and try to think of a podium ( that was the only option.

"Staying in front after the first pit stop I saw he was coming and he was then quicker but not quick enough to get by us. It was only about who would stop when and we were obviously hoping they would stop before us.

"But they managed to stay out one more lap and that moved the race towards them. I think if we would have been able to stay in front after the pit stops, because it is so difficult to pass, we might have had a chance but we will never find out."

Schumacher's brother Ralf earned his first podium for Toyota with a third place he feels should silence the big-budget team's critics. …

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