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Hill: F1 has a lot of soul searching to do
18 September 2009
Damon Hill says Formula 1 has 'a lot of soul searching to do' if it is to survive having its reputation tarnished yet again by the latest scandal to rock the sport.
Renault's race-fixing allegations, increasing dubbed as 'Crashgate', is the latest negative association to take its toll on Formula 1 in recent times, following on from the McLaren 'spygate' affair, Max Mosely's private life and the imminent threat of a breakaway series.
Each controversy has done its bit to harm the sport's reputation in some way, although many are arguing Renault's involvement in asking Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, has been the most scandalous.
With this in mind, British Racing Drivers' Club president and 1996 F1 World Champion Hill admits the sport needs to sort a lot of the 'issues' it is currently riddled with.
"It's not a very good episode," Hill told BBC Radio 4
. "There are clearly a lot of issues, and have been in the past, and it has a lot of soul searching to do. It's a huge sport, there's a huge amount of interest, and sometimes controversies actually add to the interest. But you want it to be for the right reasons.
"I'm concerned the sport is going to suffer as a genuine challenge, which is what I always felt it should be and would like it to be, of skill and competitiveness."
With Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds having already resigned for their part in the case, Renault go up before the World Motor Sport Council on 21st September (Monday) to discover its fate.
Hill goes on to admit that, in a career spanning eight seasons, he has never heard of a driver being asked to crash deliberately, adding such an action can see you 'entering into the realms of the unknown'.
"That is definitely something that was not considered," said Hill when asked about the safety implications of their actions. "If it is what's happened, and we're assuming Piquet's allegations are correct, it was probably not taken on board as seriously as it should have been.
"If that's exactly what was suggested then I don't think they were taking into account everyone involved. But then we don't know to what extent they expected Piquet to crash either."
"It's easy to get blasé about crashing in Formula One. There are a lot of very good safety precautions and they do everything they can to make drivers and spectators safe if there is an accident.
"But to deliberately have an accident, you are entering into the realms of the unknown. Nobody can predict what will happen if you do have a crash. So no, I've not heard of anything like that that I can recall.
"I think there have been suggestions in the past that if one driver from one team were to collide with another driver of another team, that might enhance the first team's chances of success.”