Motor Racing: Champion claims to have Hill worried

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Motor Racing

Michael Schumacher has intensified his war of words with his rival Damon Hill, saying the Briton is moody and seems to be showing nerves in the struggle for the world drivers' championship.

"One day you can talk with him OK. The next, he will walk past me as though I am thin air," the German world champion said in an interview with the German magazine, Sport Bild. "He seems to be very moody. The people around him have confirmed that to me. I find it hard to get on with moody people."

Asked whether Hill was showing nerves and was worried that the title was already decided, the German added: "It certainly seems to be going that way. He can see the world championship slipping away from him again. He knows that he does not have many possibilities of stopping that. He does not have No 1 status at Williams. It seems he has problems with all that."

The build-up to Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone has been dominated by ill-feeling between the two drivers. Hill has accused Schumacher of being a product of his sponsors and a clone.The attacks come a week after Schumacher criticised the Briton for "unsportsmanlike and dangerous driving", following an incident in the early stages of the French Grand Prix.

Schumacher, who went on to win the race and extend his championship lead over Hill to 11 points, complained that the Williams driver had "brake- tested" him as they both caught back-markers at Magny-Cours.

Schumacher and Hill were involved in an intense battle for last year's championship. But the German said his poor relations with Hill went back a lot further than the climax to last season, when the two collided in the decisive Australian Grand Prix.

"Our relationship has always been a bit curious. Years ago I sat next to him on a plane. He was still a test driver and we talked normally about this and that," the German said.

"The next time I saw him he was a Formula One driver. Suddenly he didn't know me anymore. I never understood that. One day you are talking normally. Five days later the other person won't look at you any more. You ask yourself: 'What is up with him?' "

Asked whether Hill was a better driver than him, Schumacher said bluntly: "You only need to look at the world championship standings to get a picture of that."

Pacific's battle, page 22