Hill aims to pile on the pressure

Motor racing

DERICK ALLSOP

reports from Spa-Francorchamps

Another arena, another ball game. Damon Hill, the no-hoper last time out, senses the force is now with him and the pressure on the world champion and championship leader Michael Schumacher, as he seeks confirmation of his revived title prospects in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix here.

Hill's victory and Schumacher's retirement in Hungary, 12 days ago, brings them to this, the most spectacular circuit on the tour, separated by just 11 points. The mood in the Williams-Renault camp has changed just as dramatically.

Their English driver, contracted for another year by the team, said yesterday: "Michael is in the position now where he could possibly lose the title, which looked pretty secure till a fortnight ago. Eleven points is a fairly slender lead and he will be feeling a little more twitchy.

''It's important for us to pile on the pressure. Williams are working flat out to make improvements and I'm working hard, testing hard, focusing on winning every race."

Hill's ability to sustain the pressure carried him all the way to a final race decider last season, momentum generated after Schumacher's disqualification at this track.

"Spa is even more crucial than Hungary," Hill said. "That was a situation where if I lost I could virtually discount the championship. Now I have to win to keep up the momentum and if I do that I believe we will have reached a turning point. Instead of a mountain to climb it will be a bit more of an easy slope for the rest of the season. I have a lot of inner pressure to perform. The momentum will build with us."

With seven races remaining, the bookmakers have Schumacher at 5-1 on, Hill 3-1 against. Hill suggests a few bob on him might not be wasted.

"I have invested my entire career on myself to win the championship,'' Hill added. ''It has taken me a long time to position myself to take a stab at it. This is the culmination of 10 years' racing."

Hill's concentration on that objective this season will not be dissipated by Schumacher's declaration that his rival will be favourite next year. The German reasons that he cannot expect to be champion in his first season after switching from Benetton-Renault to Ferrari.

Psychological ploys have long been part of their duel and Hill declines to fall for this one. He said: "This year is taking all my attention. That's Michael releasing a bit of pressure because he's taken a lot of money from Ferrari and they will be expecting value for it. They put him in at great expense to put Ferrari on top."

He is unmoved by the plight of David Coulthard, now seeking alternative employment after being replaced at Williams by Jacques Villeneuve. Hill said "I wouldn't be honest if I said I had sympathy with anyone in Formula One. It's a hard game and the rules apply to me as to anyone else. It's a reminder of how ruthless the sport can be. Every driver has to perform. It's still early days in David's career. He's 24. I was driving Formula Ford at his age."

The cash-strapped Pacific Ford team were last night involved in emergency talks over their latest crisis, which arose following a dispute with the suppliers of their engines last season.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

C# .NET Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript HTML, CSS) Finance

£60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh-£260/day

£230 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS, Crystal rep

£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment