Motor racing: Hill linked with move to Prost - at a price

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The Independent Online
Damon Hill is being linked with the team headed by the former world champion, Alain Prost, as his Formula One future reaches make-or-break time.

Prost, a former Williams team-mate of Hill, is ready to sign the current drivers' champion if the price is right.

"I want the best driver possible on condition that he is not too expensive. I have my budget and I am sticking to it," the Frenchman said yesterday.

The pair are expected to hold talks this week, with Hill's asking price likely to be the crucial factor.

After the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, Hill revealed that he had turned down an offer of pounds 13m over two years from Sauber-Petronas and a pounds 1.3m basic wage package and pounds 650,000 win bonus from McLaren-Mercedes.

The Arrows driver has also been linked with Jordan, but Eddie Jordan, the team owner, said yesterday that their accent on youth meant they would be keeping Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher next season.

Jordan is confident he can win his contract battle with Benetton over Fisichella, who underlined his potential with second place to Michael Schumacher on Sunday.

Prost was impressed with Hill's ability when they were team-mates at Williams in 1993, the year the Frenchman retired after winning the championship for the fourth time.

Despite agreeing an engine supply deal with Peugeot starting next season and signing Olivier Panis for two more years, Prost said recently that his would not be an all-French team.

An Anglo-French driving alliance of Hill and Panis, currently recuperating after breaking both his legs in Canada in June, would be an attractive proposition.

Hill could yet remain with Arrows, while Sauber are also willing to reopen negotiations, although they no longer see him as a priority to partner Johnny Herbert.

Benetton remain a potential haven, especially if they lose out on Fisichella, although whether they can offer Hill a competitive package on and off the track is doubtful.