Motor Racing: Taste of Hill fire for those who doubt his future: Williams-Renault's No 1 states his determination to remain in the driving seat despite mooted return of Mansell

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The Independent Online
DAMON HILL revealed another side to his character yesterday - angry, abusive, even foul-mouthed - and pledged he would prove in Sunday's British Grand Prix he was here to stay.

No more Mr Nice Guy, he has decided. The Williams-Renault driver is sick of the critics questioning his future, particularly in light of Nigel Mansell's possible return next year, and intends to give Michael Schumacher, of Benetton- Ford, a fight for the Formula One world championship.

Hill, stern-faced, sat briefly outside the Williams motorhome to deliver a speech which had doubtless been shaping inside him since last Sunday's French Grand Prix.

He said: 'What do you have to do to prove to people you are any good? Last weekend I beat Nigel Mansell for pole, and the year before I beat Alain Prost for pole. I led the race and came closer to Michael Schumacher than anyone has been all year other than Ayrton Senna.

'Yet all I am reading about is that my job is in jeopardy. It is not in jeopardy. I am second in the world championship and I'm coming here to beat Michael Schumacher, win the race, and try to turn the championship around.

'I have never heard such a load of rubbish in all my life since last weekend. I'm very hacked off. I don't get credit for being polite and diplomatic so I am going to ditch that tack because it is not getting me anywhere.

'I am fighting a battle with a car that is clearly not as good as the Schumacher-Benetton combination. I need 100 per cent backing from Williams to do the job properly, which I have asked for, and I should think that after last weekend I have proved I am getting the best out of the equipment.

'It has taken me 10 years to get to this position in Formula One and I am not going to relinquish it to anyone without a fierce fight. I promise you I am here to stay. I have proved myself as a top Formula One performer and this weekend I shall once again prove that point.'

Williams are the centre of much conjecture. Mansell is due to partner Hill again for the final three races of the season and a full-time return of the IndyCar champion is widely expected next year.

There is speculation in some quarters that Scotland's David Coulthard, restored here for his British Grand Prix debut, could get the other car rather than the Englishman. Hence the outburst. Hill's stock should have risen after last week, but he clearly feels his ability is still underestimated.

Another Briton offering a change of image is Martin Brundle. The McLaren driver has a redesigned helmet, is selling his helicopter and embarking upon a blinkered approach to the job.

Mark Blundell, of Tyrrell- Yamaha, is hoping he and his countrymen can tap into some left-over Mansell mania. He said: 'We'll try to fill Nigel's shoes and give the fans something to cheer about.' Northern Ireland's Eddie Irvine, driving a Jordan-Hart, could well score points in his first British Grand Prix, while Lotus- Mugen Honda's Johnny Herbert, seventh on three occasions this season, is entitled to feel he is due a break.

Brazilians' burden, page 34