Damon Hill fired by Williams

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The Independent Online
Damon Hill, who is poised to win the Formula One drivers' world championship, has been dropped by his Williams- Renault team for next season.

It was revealed yesterday that Frank Williams, the team's leader, had ended negotiations over a new contract with Hill last week. The British driver had been seeking an improvement to his present 12-month deal, believed to be worth $7.5m (pounds 5m), and was understood to be requesting $12m.

It had been rumoured that Williams was not prepared to go beyond $8m, but it became clear yesterday that money had not been the key issue. Hill's representative, Michael Breen, said that the driver had been prepared to continue negotiating, but Williams had decided to end the talks.

It is believed Williams may have been planning for some time to replace Hill. According to sources inside Formula One, Williams agreed a deal last year with the German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen to drive for his team next year.

If Hill wins the championship - he leads by 13 points, with three races remaining - he will be the fourth Williams driver to leave the team with the world title in the past nine years, following Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost.

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Sports Section, page 24

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