Fernando Alonso would be unwise to assume that the 2006 world championship is in the bag – even though Michael Schumacher publicly conceded the title following his retirement at Suzuka.
That is the view of 1996 champion Damon Hill, who lost the ’94 title to Schumacher after a controversial collision with the German in the final round at Adelaide.
Alonso’s victory at Suzuka, coupled with Schumacher’s DNF, moved the Renault driver to the brink of a second consecutive drivers’ crown.
With 10 points now separating the protagonists heading into the season finale in Brazil, the only way Schumacher can beat Alonso is by winning at Interlagos with the Spaniard failing to score any points.
Although that scenario is improbable, it would only require a mirror image of events at Suzuka.
Hill dismissed the notion that Schumacher has written off his chances and warned Alonso not to drop his guard.
“Michael said he’s not thinking about the championship now – that’s baloney,” the Briton told the BBC.
“He never gives up. I would keep my armour on if I were Alonso until after the last race.”
Hill reckons Schumacher has not given up because it would be alien to his character to do so.
“Don’t ever write that guy off,” he said. “It’s not over until it’s over.
“He’s going to go into that last race thinking: ‘Now, how can I win this and Alonso not score anything?’
“That’s the way he’s going to approach it.
“Otherwise he’s not Michael Schumacher.”