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Former world champion Damon Hill has launched a scathing attack on the current level of politics in Formula 1 - claiming that the sport's chiefs have moved it so far away from the public that it has become 'tragic'.

On the eve of the new season, and amid the backdrop of Minardi facing the prospect of being forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix in a political dispute, Hill has claimed that he is completely baffled about the sport's current direction.

"F1 has an enormous power to communicate and I think the things that it's been communicating have been all wrong recently, and it upsets me,"he told The Age in Melbourne.

"I think it could be such a wonderful sport and I think it's very sad the way it's managed. When you consider what's been going on in the world over the last few years, (F1 people are) so out of touch sometimes, I think it's quite tragic.”

He added: "I went to the British Grand Prix last year and I was so bored. It was just awful. It's so depressing, especially when I've been going to grands prix since I was a little boy and I can remember the races being like festivals.

"They (the F1 fraternity) treat the public with such contempt. It's dreadful."

But Hill's criticisms of the state of the sport are not simply aimed at its bosses and rulers - because he claims that major harm has been caused to F1 by the way Michael Schumacher and Ferrari have approached racing.

Refering to the fact that team orders have always protected Schumacher's position as his team's number one, Hill said: "What is really damaging - and has been damaging - for F1 has been this apparent imbalance between what Michael Schumacher has compared with his team-mates

"I think he has to be excused for doing whatever he possibly can to gain the best position he can to get what's best for Michael Schumacher. I mean, who wouldn't?

"If you can knock out any threat from within the team - that is, your other driver - then, of course, it makes sense. But, unfortunately, for everyone watching, it's bloody boring. It's damaging."

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