Damon Hill will seek talks with his employer today after a report that the British driver is to be ditched by the Williams Formula One Team.
Hill, who was due to arrive in Germany today (25/7/96) to begin preparing for Sunday’s Grand Prix at Hockenheim, will want a meeting with team owner Frank Williams.
According to today’s Autosport magazine, Williams has opened talks with German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen about next season. Both the Williams team and Hill’s agent have denied the story but speculation about Hill’s future has been rife for some time.
Hill is the clear leader of the drivers’ championship and Williams are on course for the constructors’ title but there has been criticism of Hill’s driving.
Frentzen, who is currently with the Sauber team, could replace Hill and link up with Jacques Villeneuve, who has impressed Williams in his first Formula One season.
When told of the report that Hill would not be driving for him next season Williams said: “It’s news to me,” but did admit: “The only driver with whom we have a contract for 1997 at this time is Villeneuve.”
It is known that Hill has asked for a pay rise and it is also known that Williams is a tough negotiator who is not afraid to replace big names. He dropped Nigel Mansell when the Briton was world champion in 1992.
Frentzen has driven in 42 Grands Prix in his career but has never finished better than third whereas Hill has won six of the 10 races so far this season. Yet Frentzen is highly regarded and might help Williams tempt German company BMW to sign a deal to provide engines once the Renault contract ends after next year.
Williams tried to sign Frentzen last year before agreeing terms with Villeneuve.
25/7/96 – London Evening Standard.