Motor Racing: Hill's self-belief on the rise: Briton aims to build on success in Hungary

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST hurdle has been cleared, but the course has still to be conquered. Damon Hill concedes that his victory in Hungary proved little, that he needs more ammunition to force himself into the ranks of the elite and another year's employment with the Williams-Renault team.

It is, however, a measure of the Englishman's growing self-belief that he aspires to that lofty plane, alongside Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, and that he approaches Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix here demanding of himself conclusive evidence of his capabilities.

He said: 'I am not going to be pushed aside. I want to be here for some time. But Hungary was devoid of competition, it was not as challenging as it might have been. Senna, Prost and Schumacher are the big boys and it's my aim to be one of the big boys of Formula One, and seen not as somebody being ahead thanks to the machinery.'

Various mishaps eliminated Hill's illustrious rivals from contention at Budapest, enabling him to advance to third place in the championship, above Benetton-Ford's Schumacher. Prost, his Williams-Renault team-mate, is seemingly beyond reach, yet Senna, the McLaren-Ford driver, is only 12 points ahead and, Hill believes, there for the taking.

Hill said: 'One win is not enough. It's like getting your first run in cricket. When you've done it you want to build a good innings. I'm very keen to build on that first win. I will be more aggressive. I feel the win has freed me from the restraints of earlier in the season.

'The thing to do now is try to pull ahead of Schumacher and attack Senna. I'm not in the hunt for the world championship, but second is a realistic target. In my first full season, that would not be a bad springboard. I'll be disappointed if I finish lower than third.

'I'm looking at every race for the rest of the season as an opportunity to win. Senna's not got the best equipment. Williams and Benetton are getting better, so he's got a fight on his hands from me and Schumacher.'

This awe-inspiring circuit ought to yield another victory for Williams, as Schumacher acknowledged. He said: 'Unless something unusual happens, I think it would unrealistic of us to expect to beat Williams.'

The unusual, however, is always possible here, in the Forest of the Ardennes. If it rains - as often it does - then Schumacher, and Senna, will sense the chance to challenge Williams. Prost, so close to his fourth championship, might not care to risk all.

This was the scene of Schumacher's debut two years ago, and his maiden grand prix victory, last season. The circuit is also closer to his German home town than Hockenheim and tens of thousands of his compatriots are expected to boost the attendance this weekend.

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