Damon Hill will be the top target of the new West McLaren Mercedes-Benz team next season if he wins the Formula One world title at Monza on 8 September
This became clear after the announcement that the Woking-based giants are splitting with Marlboro to accept a sponsorship deal with German tobacco company West worth around £125 million.
McLaren chief Ron Dennis is said to have made a £12M bid for Hill during a meeting at his villa hideaway on the French Riviera earlier this month. But he would only say publicly that his driver line-up for 1997 would be “David Coulthard and the best available driver in the opinion of McLaren and Mercedes-Benz.”
Hill’s manager, Michael Breen, has made it clear he will seek a massive pay rise for his driver if he clinches the title and it has been reported that he has been in talks with the Jordan Peugeot and new Stewart Ford teams as well as with McLaren and Williams.
28/8/96 – London Evening Standard.