Hill puts priority on qualifying

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The Independent Online
Motor racing

Damon Hill believes the qualifying sessions will be even more important than usual as he attempts to claim his third victory in as many grands prix this season in the Argentine event on Sunday.

The Williams' driver won the opening grand prix in Melbourne last month and followed that by sneaking to success in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo last weekend.

Victory in Sunday's 72-lap race at the 4.259km Oscar Alfredo Galvez circuit, where he won last season, would give him a comfortable advantage over his rivals before the Formula One series switches to the European season at the Nurburgring in Germany on 28 April.

"It is a circuit on which it is difficult to pass," Hill said, "but it is certainly a fun track to drive on as well. The main thing is that it is vital to try and get a good grid position."

Hill has been relaxing with his wife, Georgie, on the Brazilian coast since his victory last Sunday. There was no such luxury for his Williams team-mate, Jacques Villeneuve, who spun off in the treacherous wet conditions. The Canadian is determined to atone for that mistake in Argentina and emulate his impressive debut display in Australia, when he finished second.

"I am hoping for a dry race, obviously," he said. "I have not had much experience of wet weather racing and that was a disadvantage for me in Brazil. It was only my second time."

The two Williams men expect their biggest challenge to come once again from the Benetton team's Jean Alesi, who was second in Brazil, and the world champion, Michael Schumacher, in a Ferrari. Schumacher was third in Brazil.

The tight and technical circuit is likely to bring into contention several teams who cannot match those three for power, including the Tyrrells of Finland's Mika Salo and his Japanese team-mate, Ukyo Katayama.

The Jordans of the Brazilian, Rubens Barrichello, who looked certain to finish in the points until he spun off in Brazil, and Martin Brundle are also likely to play major parts this weekend.

However, Johnny Herbert, who drives for Sauber, thinks Hill has merely to keep his head to take the world title. "He just hasn't got a threat out there," he said. "Probably his only danger is his team-mate, Jacques, because the Williams is easily the best car this year.

"Damon should win the title. He has had a great start to the season and should do it."

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