Jordan believes Hill will go out in style

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The Independent Online

Eddie Jordan believes Damon Hill can end his Formula One career in glorious fashion with victory in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

Eddie Jordan believes Damon Hill can end his Formula One career in glorious fashion with victory in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.

The team chief is confident that the Suzuka setting - where Hill has enjoyed several memorable moments - can see his driver finishing on a high.

Former world champion Hill retires after Sunday's race, bringing to a conclusion an eight-year career that has included 22 wins in 113 races.

"I wouldn't bet against Damon," said Jordan, whose team secured a career-best third place in the constructors' championship at the controversial last race in Malaysia two weeks ago.

"I know he has had some problems with motivation this year but Suzuka has always been a special place for him.

"I just have this feeling that he is going to do something special this weekend. He will want to go out on a high."

Hill has endured a tortuous final Grand Prix year and has come close to quitting several times throughout the campaign.

The 39-year-old would not have even taken part in the final two races in the Far East if a complex deal involving Prost's Jarno Trulli, who replaces him in 2000, had come off.

But Hill will relish the finale in Suzuka where he scored one of his most famous wins in a rain-lashed race in 1994.

The unique figure-of-eight track is also where Hill was crowned drivers' champion three years ago emulating the feat of his late father Graham.

The father of four admits time has finally caught up with him this year while the average age of the rest of the grid is dropping.

"My age has been a factor," said Hill, who has managed just seven points this season. It is something you are always fighting a losing battle against and it is something you cannot ignore.

"I have no reservations about going. I believe I am doing the right thing and it will be great to have time to spend with my wife and children.

"But I have had a great career and achieved everything I have set out to do when I started.

"It was also great to have helped Jordan finish third in the championship but I just wish I could have done more to help."

Hill's departure from the racing scene will be overshadowed on Sunday by the conclusion to the title battle involving Ferrari's Eddie Irvine and McLaren's Mika Hakkinen.

Irvine leads the reigning champion by four points going into their winner-takes-all contest - the fourth time in the last six years the title has been decided in the final race.

But Jordan is determined to throw a spanner in the works of the championship finale by going all out for a victory that would consolidate his team's status as a major force to be reckoned with next year.

Jordan's optimism stems from the fact the pressure is now off his Silverstone-based outfit after they finally secured that career-best third spot.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen's sixth place in Malaysia clinched that historic achievement even if the race did finally see the end of his challenge for the drivers' title.

"We will have nothing to lose this weekend," warned Jordan, hoping for the win for Japanese engine partners Mugen-Honda in their home race.

"It is great to be able to go to Suzuka knowing we are third. That was one of the best points we have ever scored in Malaysia and it means we have done what we have set out to achieve.

"Now we can race really hard to try and win the Grand Prix for ourselves and Mugen-Honda."