True test of new rivalry

Sport-BY-SPORT GUIDE TO 1995: Trinidad's finest to set tempo for visit of calypso cricketers as Ryder Cup heads for Rochester : MOTOR RACING
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The roles of David Coulthard and Nigel Mansell may still be uncertain, but there can be little doubt Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill will again be the principal characters on the Formula One stage this coming season. Few can lament the passing o f 1994, and the advent of another world championship offers the opportunity to rebuild the credibility of grand prix motor racing.

The brilliance of Schumacher and the emergence of Hill as a genuine force hold out the prospect of a contest that flickered briefly at the end of last year. Hill was ultimately probably more comfortable as the honourable runner-up than he would have beenas champion.

However contrived or otherwise that climax, few can dispute Schumacher was the best out there. In effect, he had to win it twice. What Hill achieved was a stature and self-belief that ought to make him a viable contender this year from day one. Schumacher will presumably be there, and the involvement of at least one other heavyweight should ensure an absorbing and enduring scrap.

Hill's car, the Williams-Renault, was improved throughout last season, and the package will again be strong. Schumacher's car remains an unknown quantity. His team, Benetton, have switched from Ford V8 engines to Renault V10s so, given the same muscle asWilliams, their overall performance should be enhanced. Benetton again intend to be fully prepared from the season's start and provide Schumacher with the best possible prospect for the early initiative.

McLaren, having changed engine partners again, from Peugeot to Mercedes, confront another learning process and cannot be expected to be in contention for the championships.

The other member of the Big Four, Ferrari, always proffer glimpses of a brighter future, where the Prancing Horse again rears at the head of the field. It happened once last season, and may happen at least once again in 1995. But title challengers?

No, we appear to be back with Benetton and Williams. If we can have a true race between these two, we will settle for that.