Damon Hill (Damon Graham Devereux Hill)
|Nation: ||Great Britain|
| || |
|Grand Prix entered:||122|
|World Championships: ||1 (1996)|
|First Race:||1992-05-03 Catalunya, Brabham |
|Last Race:||1999-10-31 Suzuka, Jordan|
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|1999 ||Jordan|| |
|1998 ||Jordan|| |
|1997 ||Arrows, TWR|| |
|1996 ||Williams|| |
|1995 ||Williams|| |
|1994 ||Williams|| |
|1993 ||Williams|| |
|1992 ||Brabham|| |
| || || |
Damon Graham Devereux Hill, commonly known as Damon Hill, is a British former race car driver and was the 1996 Formula One world champion. He was born in London on September 17, 1960, and is the son of the late, two time Formula One World Champion Graham Hill. He is the only son of a Formula One Grand Prix champion to win the championship himself. He took all but one of his 22 victories for the Williams team - including a victory at the 1994 British Grand Prix, a race his father never won. He also scored Jordan's first win and came within a few miles of being the only man to win a Grand Prix for the Arrows team and their Yamaha engine supplier at the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix. Hill became president of the British Racing Drivers Club in 2006.
While in his teens Damon attended the prestigious Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire. The death of his father, double world champion Graham Hill, in a plane crash in 1975 when Damon was only 15 years old left the Hill family in drastically reduced circumstances. Hill worked as a labourer and a motorcycle courier to support his further education. He started to compete in motorcycle racing in 1981, winning the 350cc clubman's championship at Brands Hatch, he then took a course at the Winfield Racing School in France. Hill did not make his single-seater debut until 1984, wearing the blue and white colours of the London Rowing Club on his helmet as his father had done. He slowly graduated through Formula Ford, Formula Three and Formula 3000, showing occasional flashes of speed, never winning a F3000 race despite leading at least five.
In 1992, at the late age of 32, he broke into Grand Prix racing with the struggling Brabham team, managing to qualify for two mid-season Grands Prix. Hill was also the test driver for the dominant Williams-Renault team. His first being at Silverstone and his second being at Hungary, the second of which Hill found most of his Grand Prix success later in his career.
1993, The Start Of A Legacy...And A Rivalry
When Nigel Mansell left to drive IndyCars in 1993, Hill was promoted to the race team alongside Alain Prost ahead of more experienced candidate Martin Brundle. Hill benefited greatly from the vast experience of his veteran French team-mate. After some bad luck, the Englishman won three successive races in his first full season of F1 and became the first second-generation Formula One Grand Prix winner. Including a memorable victory in Spa, where he and Michael Schumacher had a thrilling race.
"I think we can be close again, if not closer, to the Williams there. But congratulations to Damon. We had a brilliant race and he did a fantastic job"
- Michael Schumacher speaking after Hill's victory at Spa '93
1994, Determination After Devastation
In 1994 the legendary triple world champion Ayrton Senna joined Hill at Williams. The pre-season betting had been that Senna would coast to the title, but at Imola the Brazilian tragically died. Hill suddenly found himself team leader and was to cope with the pressure admirably. In April 2004 Damon told BBC sport that he believed it was Senna's own fault for the crash that claimed his life, Hill believes his team-mate simply took the corner too fast for the conditions at that time. At Barcelona he took an emotional win and began to be a title contender. He won the British Grand Prix, a race in which his late father had never tasted victory. He managed to take the title battle to the final event at Adelaide, but was denied the world championship after a controversial collision with Michael Schumacher, when the German driver - who had run off the track and damaged his Benetton - collided with Hill in what a clumsy and desperate defensive move, breaking the Williams' front suspension. In 2003, the BBC conducted a search for "The Most Unsporting Moment", the incident in Adelaide was one of the proposed candidates for the award, Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal won the award in June 2003.
"...And there will be people of course who say as we see this replay of Schumacher going into the wall, that that was a desperate manuovere by Schumacher to stop Damon Hill from winning the championship..."
- Murray Walker (Adelaide 94)
Although Schumacher had dominated the early part of the season, Hill had come back into contention for the title after Schumacher had been disqualified from the British Grand Prix and banned for two races for overtaking during the formation lap and ignoring a black flag. Four of Hill's six race wins in 1994 came in races where Schumacher was either disqualified or serving a ban, and in a fifth, the Spanish Grand Prix, Schumacher struggled to second with a gearbox fault, having comfortably lead the early laps.
1995, So Close...But Yet So Far
For 1995 Hill was confident of title glory. The Williams team were reigning constructors champions having beaten Benetton in 1994 and with young David Coulthard as team-mate, he was undoubtedly the number one driver. The season started badly when he spun off in Brazil due to a mechanical problem, but a couple of wins put him in the championship lead. It was not to last. Schumacher hit top form and managed to successfully defend his title with two races to spare. To make matters worse, Williams lost the constructors championship. Hill had made several high profile errors in 1995 and it was around this time that Frank Williams began to consider bringing in Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the future. With Hill already under contract for 1996 his place at the team was secure for one more season, but it would prove to be his last at the Grove squad.
1996, Hill's Best Season...And Ironically His Worst
In 1996 the Williams car was clearly the quickest in Formula One and Hill went on to win the title ahead of team-mate Jacques Villeneuve (in his first year in Formula One), becoming the first son of a Formula One champion to win the championship himself. Taking 8 wins and never qualifying off the front row, Hill enjoyed by far his best season. At Monaco, the legendary circuit where his father had been so dominant, he had been on course for victory before technical difficulties curtailed his race, Olivier Panis going on to take his one and only win. Despite a World Championship, Hill was dropped by Williams for the following season to the outrage of fans and media alike. Frentzen was his replacement.
"I've had some emotional moments in my years in Formula One, but none more so than the end of the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. 'I've Got to stop now', I said, 'because I've got a lump in my throat' as Damon Hill crossed the line to become world champion. You see, I'd known his father Graham, I'd watched him from his debut as a promising motorcycle racer to his dramatic years in Formula One, and I'd come to regard him as a friend. So his success, at the end of what I knew had been a long and very hard road, was very special to me"
- Murray Walker, on Hill's victory in Suzuka
1997, Against All Odds
As world champion Hill was in high demand, but surprisingly signed to the unfancied Arrows team. His title defence in 1997 proved unsuccessful. The car was generally uncompetitive, but at Silverstone he managed to score his first point for the team. The highlight of the year came in Hungary where he came within a few miles of an astonishing win. Having qualified third (an amazing achievement in itself), he had passed Michael Schumacher and was well ahead of Villeneuve late in the race, Hill had put in an outstanding drive on a day when his car's Bridgestone tyres made it a match for machinery that was usually much faster. Very close to the finish, a 10p washer failed on Hill's Arrows, allowing Villeneuve to storm past and win. Hill salvaged second place however, still a fantastic result.
"I nearly went through the roof in the commentary box"
- Murray Walker speaking after the Hungarian Grand Prix
1998, Hill's Final Victory
Despite the excellent showing in Hungary, it was clear that Arrows could not provide Hill with the kind of success that he craved. For 1998 he switched to Jordan to partner Ralf Schumacher. The first half of the season was disastrous, the car off the pace and unreliable. In Canada however, things began to improve. Hill benefited from others misfortunes to lead the race and enjoyed a high speed duel with arch rival Michael Schumacher. He did not finish in Montreal, but had shown his speed once more. Finally at Hockenheim he scored his first points of 1998. At Spa he took Jordan's first ever win, leading home his team-mate in a 1-2 in drenching conditions. It was his first victory since being dropped by Williams and silenced the critics who claimed that he could only win in the best car. He went on to finish the year very strongly, with a stunning last lap move on Frentzen at Suzuka earning him 4th place in the race, and Jordan 4th in the constructors.
1999, A Final Season To Forget
Hopes were high for 1999, but Hill did not enjoy a good season. Struggling with the new 4-grooved tyres, he was outpaced by team-mate Frentzen and appeared to lose motivation. After an inglorious crash at Montreal he announced plans to retire at the end of the year, but after a miserable French Grand Prix he considered quitting immediately. Jordan persuaded him to stay on for Silverstone at least, but going into the weekend Hill was talking of stopping after the race. Jordan had tested Jos Verstappen as a contingency for Hill retiring mid-season, but following a strong fifth place at his home event, the 1996 champion opted to see out the year. Only two more points were added, a sixth at Spa, scene of his last win, representing his final point in F1. With three races of 1999 to go, there were rumours that Prost would release Jarno Trulli (who had signed for Jordan in 2000) early to replace Hill, but Damon completed the season. His last race at Suzuka ended in disappointment. He spun off the track and pulled into the pits to retire a healthy car, much to the dismay of the team. Many would agree that Hill spent a year too long in F1, but regardless of his unsuccessful final season, he ranks as one of the best drivers to have graced the sport and was a fully deserving world champion.
"We won't be seeing his famous blue helmet any more, with those knitted black brows and the intense brown eyes burning behind the visor"
- Murray Walker on Hill's retirement
Notable Battles Between Hill and Michael Schumacher
Hill and Michael Schumacher have entertained the fans of Formula one racing with some spectacular races, here are the highlights of some of their most famous battles on the track:
Spa 94: Schumacher won his eighth GP of the season at Spa, and was on his way home with a 35-point cushion over Hill when he got a call - his Benetton had been disqualified. The wooden plank underneath the car was worn beyond the tolerance allowed. Schumacher objected; Hill collected, his title hopes revitalised.
Japan 94: One of Damon's greatest drives. Schumacher led the early stages of the rain-soaked event only for the race to be stopped after Brundle's McLaren crashed. Damon took over the lead at the re-start and then pushed as hard as he's ever pushed to beat Michael in the wet. Not something many can claim to have done.
Adelaide 94: The incident everyone remembers. Michael entered the last race of '94 one point ahead of Damon - 92 to 91. Post-pitstop on lap 35, and after some serious pressure from Hill, Schumacher hit the wall. As he bounced back onto the track Hill went for the gap. Schumacher's Benneton cut across and they touched. Michael retired, as did Damon. The world title went to Schumacher: 92 plays 91.
Silverstone 95: The pressure was really for Hill: he was at his home grand prix and Schumacher was leading the championship 46 points to 35. With 15 laps to go, Hill made an optimistic lunge at Schumacher into Priory. The inevitable collision happened and both retired. Hill described it as a "racing incident" while Schumacher, bizarrely perhaps, said it was similar to Adelaide 94.
Spa 95: An amazing display: Hill was on wets but Schumacher, after seeing Senna stay out on wets a few years before, decided to do the same. He won. But Hill was aggrieved at his driving tactics; they arrived side-by-side at Les Combes, contact was made and the accusations flew. Michael received a one-race suspension for his troubles.
Monza 95: A real championship moment: on lap 24 Hill and Schumacher collided when trying to lap Taki Inoue. Neither accepted blame, but Hill did question why Schumacher was "suddenly doing nought miles an hour". The stewards didn't agree and this time Hill got a one-race ban.
Nurburgring 95: Another decisive moment for Schumacher's title hopes. On lap 18 Hill attempted to overtake but Michael blocked and squeezed him to the edge of the track. Hill locked up and hit the back of the Benetton. "It's typical of the aggressive approach he has" said Hill. It was risky - Schumacher was racing under a suspended ban.
Hungary 97: This was against the run of play: Hill in an uncompetitive Arrows pulled a top overtake on Schumacher on lap 11. Damon was then on for a memorable win until his hydraulics failed. Qualifying third as well.
Canada 98: Schumacher hit out at Hill, accusing him of "dangerously weaving" while they were dicing for second. Many were stunned at Schumacher outburst; Hill said: "He always seem to be angry with me about something. We were racing for second; I made it difficult for him to pass".
Damon Hill has the same helmet as his father. It is a simple design of very dark blue and 8 white stipes. The stripes are blades. This is because Graham used to be a member of the London Rowing Club.
Damon had medium-dark vizors. He weared a balaklava under it, for fire-protection. Mostly a white one with one hole cut out for both eyes. During the 1999 season, Damon used a black balaklava.
The sponsors on Damons helmet have been AGV (Helmet Manufacturer), Cellnet, Ricoh, Arai (Helmet Manufacturer), Camel, Olympus, Elf, Renault, Canon, Sega, Rothmans, Danka, Playstation, Remus, Delphi, Benson & Hedges and Hill sport.
""Basicly I sport the same helmet colours as my father. It's very dark blue with white rowing bladed signifying the rowing club of Putney, London. Both my father and my mother were very succesful rowing athletes. They even met at the rowing club! I went for the same design for two reasons. First, I am proud of it, and second, you can spot this design from far away. I'm not into rowing, but the club are happy that I keep up the tradition"
- Damon Hill on his helmet design
Hill was the BBC Sports Personality of the Year twice, in 1994 and 1996 , one of only three people to achieve that feat. Boxer Henry Cooper and fellow Formula One driver Nigel Mansell being the other two to achieve the same feat.
His career included twenty-two grand prix wins, all but one of them in a Williams. He is now involved in business, including a BMW dealership.
Damon is married to Georgie, and they have 4 children: Oliver, Joshua, Tabitha & Rosie. Oliver was born with Down's Syndrome and Damon and Georgie are both active supporters of related charities
In retirement, Damon founded the high-performance car leasing business P1 International, based in Surrey, England, and has contributed many articles to the world's best-selling grand prix magazine, F1 Racing. He has raced both cars and motorcycles at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In 2005 he tested the GP2 car, lapping impressively from the off. So far however, he has opted against a serious race comeback.
Hill appeared in the 2005 series of Top Gear in the UK in July, where he set a time of 1:46.3 around their course. While this was the fastest time at that point the record has since been broken by fellow former British F1 driver, Nigel Mansell, who attained a time of 1:44.6 . During the show, host Jeremy Clarkson made a joke about claims that Damon was in fact The Stig, by smelling Damon's breath and after a slight pause replied to the audience, "Yep...Magnesium", which is apparently one of The Stig's attributes. However, Damon himself stresses that he isn't the Stig, while many people have agreed with Damon, many still stick with the belief that he is the Stig.
In early 2006, Hill was nominated to succeed Jackie Stewart as President of the BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club). Owning Silverstone circuit, the BRDC as at crucial stage as it seeks to steer the future of the track and it's facilities whilst facing increased competition from newer international facilities abroad and even domestically. He successfully obtained this position in 2006 April.
In June 2006, Hill came to Britain's next hope for the Formula One title Jenson Button saying that the Honda F1 car is holding him back, not his driving ability.
Damon Hill has been interested in music all his life. When he found the time in his busy racing career, he often grabbed his guitar and played just for fun. He's played an awful lot for charities in different bands, but since his retirement at the end of the 1999 season, Hill set up a band called The Conrods. Now he has the time, he rocks around the world and the band performs often at party's.
It all started when he was at school. He formed with some friends the punkband "Sex, Hitler and the Hormones". Hill once joked in an interview that at that time they didn't go on tour because they didn't have mopeds. It was nothing serious but a good practice to learn to play the guitar.
Later he played a few times with ex-Beatle George Harrison. He's a good friend of Damon and they performed together for some TV shows. Joe Elliot, singer of the rockband Def Leppard, met Damon one day at a party. They we're about to record their new album Euphoria and asked Hill to play along in one of the songs. The opening track of the album, Demolition Man, Damon plays a guitar solo on a Cortina-speed guitar. The solo is very good, although it is only 10 seconds long. Elliot describes the style of Damon as "a cross between the way Slash plays and Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks".
At the British Grand Prix, held in Silverstone each year, Damon has often played in front of an F1 fan crowd. It was in 1995 that he and fellow F1 racer Johnny Herbert had a fantastic show. In 1999 it seemed every one who attended the concert was wearing a Hill-cap, the traditional black cap with the white blades. Hill's teamboss at that time, Eddie Jordan, starred on drums while Damon rocked his fans for the very last time at Silverstone.
One other band Damon played with, is the S.A.S. band. The band has a lot of guest performances. Hill appears on one live album of them.
The most recent and serious band Damon has played in is The Conrods. The band was formed some years ago and plays well known cover versions of songs from The Rolling Stones, Beatles and Kinks. Nothing obscure. Band members are Damon Hill (guitar), Josh Phillips (keyboards; Midge Ure & Whitesnake), Mark Brzezicki (drums; Big Country), Steve Brzezicki (bass; Scatman John), Robert Hart (vocals; Bad Company) and Steve Roux (guitar/vocals). 2002 has been a very busy year for the band, playing more than ever before.