Hill: Anything is possible in Brazil

According to 1996 champion Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso still has a significant chance of winning the 2012 world championship this weekend.

“If he had any other opponent, I would say that Sebastian would definitely win with his 13 points advantage,” the Briton told the German newspaper Die Welt. “But you can’t write off someone like Fernando Alonso. He is such a clever and tough driver and he always seems to pull off something extraordinary. Anything is possible in Brazil.”

Nonetheless, the mainly Ferrari-loving readers of Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport concede that Alonso has only a 20 per cent chance to win in Brazil.

“He has an advantage, no question,” Hill agreed. “If I had to put a percentage on it, I would say the odds at 65 per cent in favour of Vettel.”

And if German Vettel does add a third consecutive title to his tally on Sunday – a feat not achieved so early in Michael Schumacher’s career – Hill thinks the 25-year-old could be on the road to eventually eclipsing Schumacher’s record achievements.

“Someday, he certainly could,” Hill said. “It’s still a long way away of course. But he could certainly venture into that territory. If Vettel wins in Brazil, then you can certainly imagine him winning two more championships — at least.”

Karl Wendlinger, a former Sauber driver, told Austrian Servus TV this week that on a dry track and in the absence of reliability problems, Vettel should easily finish ahead of Alonso in Brazil.

So that is where the sport’s gaze is centred at the moment: on Red Bull and Renault’s last-minute efforts to solve the recurring alternator problem, and on a forecast of almost certain rain for both qualifying and the race in Sao Paulo.

“We want to win the race,” said Vettel. “Failing that, we want to be second or third.”

The podium, or even a fourth place, would guarantee Vettel the title. Still, Italy is not giving up.

“Believe in yourself, Ferrari,” La Gazzetta dello Sport hailed. “Believe in Fernando, the track, and the weather.”


A horse called Damon Hill, a medallist at McLaren

Rarely do the worlds of F1 and the Olympics collide. However casual viewers of the prestigious equestrian dressage event could hardly believe their ears when a commentator said a German competitor was riding in London “her lovely stallion (called) Damon Hill”.

And while a little piece of F1 trotted and pranced for gold, a little piece of the 2008 Beijing games can now be found in the McLaren garage.

Olympic silver medallist Tom Stallard is Jenson Button’s performance engineer. Four years ago, he was among the world’s elite ‘men’s eight’ rowers.

“I’d always wanted to be in Formula One,” he said. “I did a motor sports-focused course at university and did some work experience in the sport. I basically joined the team straight after the 2008 Olympics.”

And just so the story goes full circle, the most famous rower ever to grace a formula one paddock was Graham Hill — former world champion Damon Hill’s father.

Before he got serious about racing, two-time title winner Hill competed for the prestigious London Rowing Club, adopting its distinctive navy and white colours for his F1 helmet.

“The self discipline required for rowing and the ‘never say die’ attitude obviously helped me through the difficult years that lay ahead,” 1962 and 1968 world champion Hill wrote in his 1969 autobiography, Life At The Limit.

Son Damon Hill raced the same London rowing colours to the 1996 title.


Williams denies Hill to be team boss

Williams co-owner Toto Wolff has slammed rumours Damon Hill is being lined up to be the famous British team’s new boss.

Chairman Adam Parr shocked the F1 world earlier this year by suddenly leaving the Oxfordshire based squad. Founder and boss Sir Frank Williams, despite no longer sitting on his own team’s board, has revealed he has assumed some of Parr’s former duties. And the next step in the saga was recent rumours that Hill, Williams’ world champion of 1996, could now move into a management role.

Since stepping down as president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers’ Club, the 51-year-old returned almost full-time to the paddock in 2012 as a television pundit for the broadcaster Sky. But according to German-language Speed Week, Williams’ Austrian shareholder Wolff slammed the Hill rumour.

“Who said that?” he told the journalist Gerhard Kuntschik.

Asked what truth there is to the gossip, Wolff added bluntly: “Nothing.”