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.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower