Kovalainen extatic after first GP victory

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Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen took his first Formula 1 victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix today. Heikki finished 11 seconds clear of Toyota’s Timo Glock after leader Felipe Massa (Ferrari) retired three laps from the chequer. His win marks the third successive victory for the team and makes Heikki the 100th Formula 1 winner since the World Championship began in 1950. Lewis finished fifth after pitting early to change a damaged front tyre on lap 41.

Both drivers were on two-stop strategies: Lewis stopped on laps 19 (9.4sec) and 41 (8.8sec), while Heikki pitted on laps 21 (9.9sec) and 48 (6.8sec).

After 11 races, Lewis maintains his overall lead in the drivers’ championship with 62 points. Heikki remains sixth with 38 points. In the constructors’ championship, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has moved up to second position with 100 points. Ferrari still leads with 111 points.

Heikki Kovalainen: "There have been races this year where I’ve been in a position to challenge for victory but had something go wrong for me. Halfway through this race, things started working for me and I started pushing Felipe hard - and it worked. I feel sorry for Felipe because he drove a great race, but my car felt good and I knew I could push for the victory. This is a great moment for me, something I’ve been targeting for many years. Hopefully, this victory will be the first of many."

Lewis Hamilton: "Congratulations to Heikki for his first and very well deserved grand prix win. The race could have been better for me. My start was okay, but Felipe’s was better and he managed to overtake me. I managed to maintain the gap during the first stint and felt comfortable in the second stint because I was matching his times but was going to be running longer to the final stops. I feel I could have had a go at passing him, but the damaged tyre halted my progress. I don’t yet know what happened. But at least I scored four points and maintained my lead in the championship, so this result is not too bad for me."

Ron Dennis/ "One of the oldest motor racing phrases ever coined is: ‘To finish first, first you have to finish.’ Hackneyed it may be, but it's true nonetheless. Even so, you have to feel sorry for Felipe, who did a very good job. But Heikki drove superbly, scoring his first grand prix victory in fine style and converting his excellent qualifying pace, which has been apparent all season, into a thoroughly well deserved win.

"Lewis’s race was compromised by his losing the lead at the start; but we fuelled him long for the second stint and therefore believed he was well placed to leapfrog Felipe in his final pitstop. Sadly for him, though, it wasn’t to be: damage to his front-left tyre cost him that victory chance. However, from Lewis’s perspective, as bad days go, it could have been a lot worse. But today was Heikki’s day, and a very good day it was, and everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is absolutely delighted for him."

Norbert Haug: "I’m sorry for Felipe and Ferrari. Lewis had bad luck with the tyre, Felipe with the engine. Heikki’s first win is sensational and he deserves it. We are obviously successful with our Finns; first Mika, then Kimi and now Heikki. Without the damaged tyre, Lewis also had a chance of victory; until then his race went according to plan and his strategy with a later second stop could have put him ahead of Felipe. Congratulations to Timo and Toyota on their second place - today Timo kept the world champion behind him. The podium showed again that the fight for the World Championship will remain very exciting. During the so-called summer break, we will continue to work hard to be well prepared for the next race on Valencia's street circuit which will be new for everybody."