Motor Racing: Hill climbing high with Williams

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The Independent Online
DAMON HILL, the Williams-Renault test driver, hopes this week to strengthen his claim for the vacant racing job with the Formula One world championship-winning team.

The 32-year-old Englishman is testing at the Paul Ricard circuit, in the south of France, alongside Alain Prost, who has already been confirmed as a Williams driver for next season.

Hill, however, must convince the team he is better equpped than his countryman, Martin Brundle, to partner Prost in the heat of battle. Brundle, 33, released by Benetton-Ford, has the experience that the managing director, Frank Williams, says he demands, and has scored points in nine of the last 10 races.

The test could delay a decision by Williams on a second driver until the end of the week at the earliest, but it appears Riccardo Patrese wil make his scheduled switch to Benetton. Williams have also had discussions with Lotus about the prospects of buying out the contract of either Johnny Herbert or Mika Hakkinen.

Another suggestion doing the rounds these past few days is that Williams might try to lure back Nigel Mansell, who has signed for the American Indycar team, Newman-Haas. The world champion revealed in his column in the Independent last week that he had been told by Renault the door was still open. His response was dismissive but then, as we are frequently reminded, anything is possible in Formula One.

One strong possibility is the return of Derek Warwick to grand prix racing at the age of 38. It is understood the sportscar world champion, out of Formula One for two seasons, may be close to announcing an agreement with one of his former teams, Footwork, who were called Arrows in Warwick's time.