MOTOR RACING: Hill must stop now, says Irvine

Click to follow
The Independent Online
EDDIE IRVINE made an inimitable contribution to the Damon Hill debate yesterday, warning the former world champion he risked injuring himself if he raced in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone tomorrow week.

Hill, having wrestled with his emotions and conflicting stories, is now to compete for Jordan-Mugen in his home event and appears to have left open the door on the rest of the season. "As we stand here, the British Grand Prix will be my last race," he said yesterday, "but if we manage to sort out the car..."

Irvine contends that Hill is making a potentially dangerous mistake even to consider racing at Silverstone. "He'd be better to retire straight away because his heart's obviously not in it," the Ferrari driver said. "I'd be scared to race. I really wouldn't want to go out there. He'd be a sick puppy if he did race, went into the wall and had a limp for the rest of his life.

"It's not a very good way of walking away. He'll probably get murdered in the race. It's also bad for Jordan. They deserve to be third in the constructors' championship and Damon is not helping them.

"He's not done it in a classy style. It's probably down to money but money can't motivate you once you are on the track. You can't do this without the fun. You are seeing that with Damon. You can't pick up the speed once it's gone."

Hill says testing at Silverstone has convinced him he can find the speed again. He also rejects the notion his motivation to race on is money, suggesting it has been behind-the-scenes "shenanigans" that have caused the uncertainty. "I have always wanted to compete in the British Grand Prix," he said. "There is more to this than meets the eye."

Hill was expected to announce his retirement last Monday, but revealed on Wednesday he would race for the final time at his home race, amid speculation he could not reach a pay-off settlement with Eddie Jordan.

The 38-year-old, who has earned around pounds 25m from his Formula One career, is understood to have been due another instalment of his pounds 5m salary with the team.

"It is probably down to business at the end of the day," Irvine, team- mate of Hill's old rival Michael Schumacher, said.

"Damon is obviously paid a lot of money and if he walks away he probably does not get the money or something. I don't think you can decide to retire at the end of the year. If you make the announcement, then just go on the day."