Motor racing: Arrows fire Hill's torment

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The Independent Online
YOU could almost feel the knife twisting as Tom Walkinshaw gave the verdict on his team's performance here.

"This is a truly spectacular result for the entire team," the Arrows owner enthused. "I'm especially proud of our two drivers, who have shown great tenacity in delivering these results."

Mika Salo's fourth place, supported by Pedro Diniz's sixth, in the Monaco Grand Prix, fulfilled potential demonstrated throughout the weekend, and will have done nothing to ease the torment of Damon Hill.

The former champion left Arrows for Jordan at the end of last season believing he had opted for a more realistic route back to title contention.

Walkinshaw told him his judgement was misplaced and here his words reopened the wounds.

Jordan, without a point this season, were desperately off the pace in the principality. Hill finished eighth, courtesy of the street circuit's familiar attrition, but trailed the race winner, Mika Hakkinen, by more than two laps.

Hill conceded the team's performance had "not been good enough" yet maintained he had no regrets about joining Jordan.

"I knew what I was letting myself in for," he said. "We know we have to work hard to improve things."

Cynics might suggest he can afford to be philosophical on pounds 4.5m a year and, as he reiterated here, he never had any genuine prospect of signing for the champions elect, McLaren.

Even so Jordan will appreciate the public support from their senior driver. Eddie Jordan, the team owner, took it upon himself to adopt a more aggressive stance.

"We seem to have gone back, and this isn't good enough," he said. "Things have to be done. I'm not looking for mercy. It will be very painful and I'm not ashamed of that.

"You can bet I'm kicking bums here. I fight best when my back is to the wall. There is no quick fix to this. Time will cure the problem but time is of the essence in Formula One and you don't get given time."

That message will doubtless be repeated to his technical director, Gary Anderson. "The things we have done to the car have not made a difference, so now we have to take a more radical approach," Jordan said. "Gary and I have faith in each other and have to solve it together."

Jordan expressed his anxiety about Hill's form in the early races but now has no complaints about the contribution of the Englishman or his other driver, Ralph Schumacher.

"I have had serious talks with the drivers but they have done a particularly good job in difficult circumstances. Damon had a difficult start with us but I've been really impressed with his motivation, having been a world champion."

Jordan and Hill have an option to continue their association next year and Jordan said he was confident they would be staying together. "Damon has given me reason to believe he is massively supportive," he said. "I am sure it will be turned around here and I think Damon will want to see it out."

Many inside Formula One are wondering whether Jordan is prepared to see it out. There are rumours of a possible sell- out and the name of Honda -- intent on returning to Formula One in two years and the parent company of his engine partner Mugen - has inevitably been mentioned.

However, Jordan are said to prefer an independent operation, and Jordan contends he is not ready to put his feet up. But he did open the door to partners interested in joining forces with him.

"I could sell out but I'm still ambitious and have a lot to achieve. I've done nothing yet. I know that.

"But if there is the opportunity of a technical partner having a piece of Jordan that would not be selling out. That would make business sense to make the team become stronger."

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