Hill sizes up the challenge

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The Independent Online

Damon Hill enters his third season in Formula One in Brazil next month in better shape and in a better car. Hill is confident that he can improve on his third and second places in previous years by finally claiming the drivers' world championship.

"I think towards the end of last year I got back into my stride and that was borne out by the performances. This year I feel prepared, much better prepared than I did at the beginning of last year and at some points during it," said the Williams-Renault driver yesterday at the launch of the FW17 at the team's Didcot base.

Hill, who missed out on the title by one point to Michael Schumacher in Adelaide, said he was delighted with his early impressions of the car, the successor to the FW16, with which the team won the constructors' world championship last year.

"For me a huge improvement will be the cockpit area. For the first time I've had one designed around my size and shape, rather than having to adapt. It won't necessarily improve my lap times in qualifying or in the early part of the races, but I'm sure it will help me perform better when you feel tired at the end of races."

Hill and team-mate David Coultard begin testing today before moving to Portugal to prepare for the launch of the grand prix season on 26 March.