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Hill in twitter spat with Mercedes over F1's future

NEWS STORY
26/03/2018

Not one to normally rock the boat, on Saturday morning, in reaction to an article in the Guardian quoting Toto Wolff's claim that a breakaway series is a real possibility, the 1996 world champion tweeted: "The sooner Mercedes and Ferrari breakaway the better as far as I'm concerned. These massive industrial complexes are ruining the sport. They don't want to play. They want it all, and all the time. The FIA have lost grip of F1"

Shortly after, Mercedes responded. "Massive industrial complexes ruining the sport". We don't remember you complaining when you were winning all those races with top of the line Renault-power, Damon," tweeted the German team, with a friendly wink.

"Er... I was in a Williams," snapped Hill. "Those disgusting garagiste upstarts. Remember? And actually, I was acutely embarrassed that I won so much. Shame on me."

Fact is, Hill's 1996 title came at a time the British outfit, along with McLaren and newcomers Benetton were the dominant force in the sport, Ferrari not having won a drivers' title in 17 years and Mercedes yet to re-enter the sport as a constructor having only returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Hill subsequently defended his comments, insisting that Mercedes and Ferrari don't see F1 as a sport - ironic considering at about the same time Sean Bratches was revealing that "Formula 1 is a global sport that we are actively repositioning from a motorsport company to a media and entertainment brand".

"Ferrari and Mercedes are acting in concert to try and create conditions under which they would stay in the sport," said Hill, according to Motorsport.com, his words echoing the recent claim made by Christian Horner. "If you would have accused them of working together in the past they would have denied it, but now here they are paired up nicely to try and get conditions under which they would continue to stay at the front of the pack.

"My argument is that it's a sport that should be trying to create at least the opportunity for all of the competitors to have a reasonable chance of competing," he added. "That's always been a difficult problem for out sport, because it rewards the dominant disproportionately."

Referring to the breakaway threat he said: "I just think it's a negotiation tactic. Would they be prepared to compete in a championship where they wouldn't have such favourable conditions? Where they had conditions that were more equal? If they're not prepared to do that, maybe they shouldn't be here.

"They could blow every team out of the water," he continued. "The industrial manufacturer complex idea I was using is because they gave far more resources than any F1 team could possible imagine unless they are another manufacturer. So if you're going to bring such enormous resources, someone has to set the rules. Someone has to at least say 'okay we can't let that go on, we have to bring into play some sort of boundary'.

"That's the FIA's job," he insisted, appearing to forget that it was the sport's governing body that courted the manufacturers in the first place and continues to do so, "and they don't have the power to do it because it was relinquished."

"Ultimately I'm coming from this position: Drivers have careers too, and this is the pinnacle of our sport. That's what we continue to say and that's what drivers set their goals at. Globally, it's presenting itself as the Everest. So you can't lock out 99 per cent of the competition. You have to find a way to open it up. And I know it's an impossible task, because there's only a few people who could ever be competitive. But at least there needs to be an attempt to broaden the base of the pyramid a little bit."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 27/03/2018 14:21

"Damon has many wise points. Tough situation for the sport right now.

Points on Qualifying could give mid-pack and back runners an opportunity at more points and shake up the starting grid big time. Similar to primes in Criterium bike racing."

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2. Posted by Hobgoblin, 27/03/2018 8:03

""Er... I was in a Williams," snapped Hill. "Those disgusting garagiste upstarts. Remember?"

err.. powered by a Renault engine. Remember?"

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3. Posted by Chris Roper, 27/03/2018 6:20

"F1 is not a business, it is a a media and entertainment brand.

F1 stopped being a sport when the big money started flowing in from TV and Advertising."

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4. Posted by Yeyox02, 26/03/2018 17:08

"F1 is not a sport, it is a business."

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5. Posted by Italian Job, 26/03/2018 14:15

"My fantasy is a "run what you brung" type race with few rules.
Certainly a generous minimum dry weight for the car (generous so that they are not fragile),
Certainly no aero rules (doesn't aero down-force increase drag?)
Certainly power-plant to be free.
Maybe a maximum fuel weight (not volume), type of fuel to be free.
Top that off with some extra points divided between Pole Position and fastest laps (one per fastest lap scoring driver? if three different drivers get a fastest lap in the race then one point each?).
It will not be Formula 1 (because that is trademarked) but it could be F U N.
Hang on - wasn't this Formula Libre?"

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6. Posted by Stitch431, 26/03/2018 12:06

"On the short run, the dirty air problem is the first to be tackled but Hill is right if he says there has to be done something to give the power back to the FIA/FOM to instate the rules without the teams having a say, as we have seen since the day that hey were given this power (only four years ago, but it seems like ages...) that it is not working to give them this power as they are not acting on behalf of the sport but only on behalf of temselves and that is only natural. It is as if giving soccer players a say in how the rules have to be applied, together with the referee. Of course, upon being given this power, they will bend the rules to their own advantage ..."

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7. Posted by The edge, 26/03/2018 10:41

"what F1 really needs to tackle is the issue of cars running in dirty air, able to catch but not over-take. Something that's been discussed now for years as a problem, but with decisions taken that have only ever made this problem worst

What I want to watch is exciting races, not boring processions! F1 MUST back way from Wing generated downforce in 2021 and move to Ground Effect downforce if it wants to thrive"

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8. Posted by The edge, 26/03/2018 10:25

"Why are people so obsessed with who wins the race? If being a McLaren fan has taught me anything over the past 4 years it’s that there a many battles to be won on Sunday, each as important as the other

That said, income MUST be shared evenly, with additional PRIZE money for your finishing position, resources must be restricted and heavily policed & we really need to make PU’s simpler and lighter."

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