Motor Racing: Hill coy on Formula One job prospects

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The Independent Online
Damon Hill will not base his decision on which team he is to drive for next year on one race in the Arrows-Yamaha: his sterling drive to second place, and almost victory, in Hungary last time out. He admits he does not expect a similar performance in Sunday's Belgium Grand Prix here on this fast, spectacular circuit.

According to the grapevine, however, Hill may have burned his boats with McLaren-Mercedes, his preferred option. It is understood the team offered him a retainer of $2m [pounds 1.26m] plus $1m a win. Hill is thought to be seeking a $10m deal and to have rejected the proposal.

That would appear to leave Jordan, the team he turned down this season, as the new favourites, with Prost and Sauber the other possibilities. He could stay put, but stresses that his decision would not be based on his last, successful drive in the Arrows-Yamaha. McLaren's David Coulthard, meanwhile, is linked with Jordan and Stewart-Ford.

One of the seats at Prost has been filled. Olivier Panis, who suffered double fractures of both legs in Canada, two months ago, has been given a new two-year contract. Panis is optimistic of racing again before the end of the season.

On the championship front, Michael Schumacher will be hoping his usual superiority on this track can fend off Jacques Villeneuve's Williams-Renault. The Ferrari driver heads the standings by just three points.

Schumacher withered in the face of Hill's onslaught at Budapest and Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, conceded a rare flaw in the German's strategy. The tyres of Schumacher's car gave way as he endeavoured to open a decisive early lead and Brawn said: "We ran too fast at the start and we have to say it was a mistake on the part of Michael, me, the whole team."

Another rumour doing the rounds here is that the Americans could be recruiting Nigel Mansell again next season. The former Formula One and IndyCar champion is said to be interesting a number of teams

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