Sports Betting: German has nous, Hill has no car

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The Independent Online
Michael Schumacher, the best driver in the world, looks a sound bet at 15-8 with William Hill to win the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday.

It is hard to know why Schumacher, who has won three of the last four Grand Prix, does not head the betting.

Jacques Villeneuve, who started the season favourite to win the driver's championship, might be in the best car, but Ferrari are catching up and the gulf in ability between himself and Schumacher seemed as marked as ever in the French Grand Prix last week.

Schumacher again took pole position and he made the most of it. His superior experience and tactics shone through in the rain when he opted to stay on slick tyres.

He is the one gaining momentum, while Villeneuve looks a vulnerable favourite at 5-4.

Damon Hill is 200-1 and, in a car which would make heavy weather of passing an MOT, never mind a Ferrari or Williams-Renault, he looks up against it.

William Hill cannot split Benson & Hedges Cup finalists Kent and Surrey and bet 5-6 each of two. But Surrey are the ones that have the most appeal.

Last Friday, William Hill took several big bets on Middlesbrough to win the Nationwide First Division championship and were forced to cut Bryan Robson's men from 6-1 to 9-2. The money appears to have been inspired.

Twenty-four hours later, the news broke that Arsenal's Paul Merson was set to head for the Riverside Stadium for pounds 5m. The Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson looks set to reinvest the pounds 12 million he is expected to receive for Juninho from Atletico Madrid, and with another pounds 5-7m likely to come his way when he disposes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Bryan Robson looks set to be given the ammunition with which to completely rebuild his side.

The question punters must be asking themselves however is: has Robson learned from last season's blunders; that he has to take the Portillo approach and spend serious money on defence, or will he persist with forward thinking?