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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK


German could take Hill's drive

Hill: Keeping thoughts to himself and his wife Georgie

Jordan have reportedly lined up Damon Hill's replacement - even though the former world champion has yet to decide his future.

Hill is being urged to retire immediately but says he will not make a decision until after this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Meanwhile his team are reported to be chasing rising German star Nick Heidfeld.


[ image: Nick Heidfeld has already tested F1 cars for McLaren]
Nick Heidfeld has already tested F1 cars for McLaren
The 22-year-old currently leads the Formula 3000 championship, one step down from F1, having won three out of four races this season.

On Thursday he qualified third-fastest for this weekend's F3000 race at Silverstone.

The German is contracted to McLaren's engine suppliers Mercedes, who may be willing to loan him out until the end of the season for the experience.

Heidfeld comes from the same city - Moenchengladbach - as Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Head: Carry on Damon

The French Grand Prix winner is one of the few people who believes Hill should continue, along with Hill's former boss at Williams, Patrick Head.

"I would like to see him continue until the end of the season. I think he still loves his racing," said the Williams technical director.

"A few people have talked up his retirement as well and maybe pushed him into this position. But I would prefer to see him see the season out."

The man himself refuses to enter the debate - in stark contrast to Hill's British predecessors in the pitlane who seem very keen for Hill to join them in retirement.

"The British Grand Prix is the only thing on my mind," said Hill.

But Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss believe the 1996 champion should stop immediately, while John Watson suggests Hill's mental state is not totally focused.


[ image: Stewart: Believes Hill should retire]
Stewart: Believes Hill should retire
"It think he should have gone at the beginning of the year," Moss told BBC One's Breakfast News.

"If you don't love racing, if you don't get the zing from it, if you don't feel enthiusiastic, I think you should get out."

Jordan are thought to be keen for their driver to stop after this weekend, a stance supported by rival team manager and Hill family friend Stewart.

"There is an on-off switch inside of him which I just cannot understand," said the Scot.

"I liken it to being pregnant. You are either pregnant or you are not pregnant. You are either going to retire or you are not going to retire.

"I think it is time he should retire."

Meanwhile Watson does not understand Hill's motives.

"Either it's a massive publicity campaign and somewhat cynical, or the guy is completely confused and doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Afraid

"He must have tremendous courage to get into your car if he's frightened," added Moss. "I'm afraid he may be afraid."

Hill knows that no driver can afford to be anything other than focused while driving at 200mph around Silverstone.

And the driver himself says he just wants to get on with the job - at least for the next three days.

"I want to achieve the best result I have had all year, but in order to do that I need to concentrate," he said.

"I am not going to talk about what is going to happen in the future. There will be clarification about that after this grand prix - not during, not before."





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