Motor Racing / Hungarian Grand Prix: Hill shows hunger

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The Independent Online
THEY will all tell you it is going to be a long, hot, hard race; but anything can happen, as history here patently testifies. But no one is taking chances. They have been practising their starts and studying the technical data in preparation for what could be the five- second race.

That is as long as it will take them to sort out their positions into the first corner, here at Hungaroring, on Sunday, and the winner of that little skirmish could well take all. A further 77 laps of this meandering, tumbling, climbing circuit may not be sufficient to produce a way past the early leader of the Hungarian Grand Prix, particularly if his car is a Williams-Renault.

Damon Hill has, of late, turned starting into something of an art form, while his team-mate, Alain Prost, has struggled from the line if not, ultimately, across it. Prost, his appetite for victories in no way diminished by the apparent imminence of a fourth world championship, has been attempting to put that right. Ayrton Senna, in a McLaren-Ford, has also been sharpening his act and it is reasonable to assume Michael Schumacher, in the Benetton-Ford, will be equally alert at the illumination of the green light.

It all amounts to a potentially explosive, as well as decisive dash, and Prost will be especially anxious to arrive at the first corner, a dipping right-hander, ahead of his closest title challenger, Senna. The Brazilian has, to put it mildly, given Prost a hard time in the opening exchanges of the last two races and the Frenchman would welcome some respite.

Amid all this mayhem - and qualifying will be as intense as it was in Monaco - Hill is striving to convince himself the Gods are not conspiring against him. He still seeks his maiden victory and a new contract, while unable to ignore the fact that 'we start practice for my 13th race on Friday 13th, I know]'

Hill went on: 'Prost has been looking at the data and practising his starts, and it's given him more confidence to be forceful at the start. Frank Williams has an option on me for next season and has told me results will still be a factor.'

Williams declined to throw any light on his plans, alluding to his wrangle and eventual split with Nigel Mansell last year as he said: 'I got in a lot of trouble here 11 months, 29 days and 23 hours ago over contracts, so I'm saying nothing this time.'