Schumacher can't be discounted says Hill

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The Independent Online

Damon Hill has insisted it would be foolish to write off old rival Michael Schumacher.

At 41, Schumacher has at times looked his age in his comeback year, in particular in comparison to Formula One's fast young guns such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Although excuses have been made of late about Mercedes' inability to get their tyres working, amongst other issues, Schumacher was found wanting in the last race in Valencia as he finished a career low 15th.

Approaching the halfway point of the season and Sunday's British Grand Prix, the seven-times champion is a staggering 93 points behind championship leader Hamilton and is still to finish on the podium this year, never mind win a race.

But after enduring many legendary battles with Schumacher on track, 1996 world champion Hill believes the German cannot be ruled out of any equation.

"I thought he was getting the upper hand there for a while," said Hill with regard to his rivalry with team-mate Nico Rosberg.

"His rightful place is at the front, and when that is the case all is well with the world. That is still where he sees himself.

"But you should never write the guy off. I made that mistake. You just can't count him out. He is never out.

"He will somehow pull something out of the hat from somewhere, and he is very determined to achieve things.

"He'll also want to show he can win at the age of 41. He's still a very young guy. These days 41 is not that old."

Hill is adamant Schumacher, who made millions of pounds throughout his previously glittering career, did not come back simply to cash in again.

"It's not about the money," added Hill.

"He loves driving. Where else are you going to get the same sort of fulfilment or kick? He is a racing driver, has always been a racing driver.

"Guys like him have been racing karts or something since they were in short trousers. It's what they love to do."

Hill feels the season will "boil over" at Silverstone after a few races in which it has simmered nicely, in particular with Jenson Button and Hamilton going head to head on home soil.

Just six points separate the McLaren duo at the top of the drivers' standings, and a 120,000 crowd will be hoping - perhaps expecting - a one-two finish.

"Your closest, most significant competitor is your team-mate," added Hill.

"But when you've a team-mate as good as Jenson, it's not a foregone conclusion.

"Lewis has the mindset of a driver, under a normal state of affairs, that sees him being first and the rest second - which is great, one way of looking at it and what you'd expect from a competitor.

"But perhaps Jenson is a little bit more opportunisitic, will be slightly more mature and realistic about things, but will not be letting Lewis get away with anything.

"So between the two British drivers, in possibly the best car, you are going to have a very close, fascinating battle, which is great for everyone."