Credit Where It's Due

There will doubtless be those who begrudge Damon Hill his championship success this year. Ever since he emerged in the Formula One spotlight, in 1993, the Englishman has been forced to endure a platoon of snipers, ready to blast away at his every mistake.

Has he enjoyed a car advantage? No question, the Williams FW18 has been the class of the field, and demonstrably so. That said, for the world champion to have a technological edge is not exactly anything new in motor racing, as the previous achievements of Alberto Ascari, Mario Andretti and Nigel Mansell, to name but a handful, readily testify.

The facts are plain enough, Damon Hill is world champion because he won eight of this year's 16 races, twice as many as anybody else. Yes, he could have wrapped up the title earlier. You could blame that on his own error at Monza: equally, you could highlight equipment failures he suffered at Monaco and Silverstone.

Taking the year as a whole, Hill has done the best job, a fact which has been partly obscured by Jacques Villeneuve's form from Hungary onwards.

And more than being a deserving champion, he will also be a creditable one, for he remains, above all else, a sportsman in the true sense of the word.

As he prepares for a season which will not yield the same fruits, we wish him well. SA