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
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own