|Born||17 September 1960 (age 51)|
|Formula One World Championship Career|
( 115 starts)
|First Race||1992 Spanish Grand Prix|
|Last Race||1999 Japanese Grand Prix|
|First Win||1993 Hungarian Grand Prix|
|Last Win||1998 Belgian Grand Prix|
Damon Graham Devereux Hill OBE (born 17 September 1960) is a retired British racing driver. In 1996 Hill won the Formula One World Championship. As the son of the late Graham Hill, he is the only son of a world champion to win the title. His father died in an aeroplane crash when Hill was 15, leaving the family in reduced circumstances, and Hill came to professional motorsport at the relatively late age of 23 via racing motorcycles. After some minor success, he moved on to single-seater racing cars and progressed steadily up the ranks to the International Formula 3000 championship by 1989, where, although often competitive, he never won a race.
Hill became a test driver for the Formula One title-winning Williams team in 1992. He was unexpectedly promoted to the Williams race team the following year after Riccardo Patrese's departure and took the first of his 22 victories at the 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix. During the mid 1990s, Hill was Michael Schumacher's main rival for the Formula One Drivers' Championship. The two clashed on and off the track. Their collision at the 1994 Australian Grand Prix gave Schumacher his first title by a single point. Hill became champion two years later but was dropped by Williams for the following season. He went on to drive for the less competitive Arrows and Jordan teams, and in 1998 gave Jordan its first win.
Hill retired from racing after the 1999 season. He has since launched several businesses and has made appearances playing the guitar with celebrity bands. In 2006, he became president of the British Racing Drivers' Club, succeeding Jackie Stewart. He announced in June 2011 that he is to step down from the position on 25 August 2011. He presided over the securing of a 17-year contract for Silverstone to hold Formula One races, which enabled the circuit to see extensive renovation work.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Pre-Formula One[edit | edit source]
Hill started his motorsport career in motorcycle racing in 1981. He used the same simple, easily identifiable helmet design as his father: eight white oar blades arranged vertically around the upper surface of a dark blue helmet. The device and colours represent the London Rowing Club for which Graham Hill rowed in the early 1950s. Although he won a 350 cc clubman's championship at the Brands Hatch circuit, his racing budget came from working as a building labourer and he "didn't really look destined for great things" according to Motorcycle News reporter Rob McDonnell. His mother, who was concerned about the dangers of racing motorcycles, persuaded him to take a racing car course at the Winfield Racing School in France in 1983. Although he showed "above-average aptitude", Hill had only sporadic single-seater races until the end of 1984. He graduated through British Formula Ford, winning six races driving a Van Diemen for Manadient Racing in 1985, his first full season in cars, and finishing third and fifth in the two UK national championships. He also took third place in the final of the 1985 Formula Ford Festival, helping the UK to win the team prize.
For 1986, Hill planned to move up to the British Formula Three Championship with title-winning team West Surrey Racing. The loss of sponsorship from Ricoh, and then the death of his proposed team-mate Bertrand Fabi in a testing accident, ended Hill's proposed drive. Hill says "When Bert was killed, I took the conscious decision that I wasn't going to stop doing that sort of thing. It's not just competing, it's doing something more exciting. I'm at my fullest skiing, racing or whatever. And I'm more frightened of letting it all slip and reaching 60 and finding I've done nothing." Hill borrowed £100,000 to finance his racing and had a steady first season for Murray Taylor Racing in 1986 before taking a brace of wins in each of the following years for Intersport. He finished third in the 1988 championship.
In Europe in the 1990s, a successful driver would usually progress from Formula Three either directly to Formula One, the pinnacle of the sport, or to the International Formula 3000 championship. However, Hill did not have enough sponsorship available to fund a drive in F3000. He says "I ended up having to reappraise my career a bit. The first thing was to realise how lucky I was to be driving anything. I made the decision that whatever I drove I would do it to the best of my ability and see where it led." He took a one-off drive in the lower level British F3000 championship and shared a Porsche 962 at Le Mans for Richard Lloyd Racing, where the engine failed after 228 laps. He also competed in one race in the British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park, driving a Ford Sierra RS500. Midway through the season, an opportunity arose at the uncompetitive Mooncraft F3000 team. The team tested Hill and Perry McCarthy. Their performances were comparable but according to the team manager, John Wickham, the team sponsors preferred the Hill name. Although his best result was a 15th place, Hill's race performances for Mooncraft led to an offer to drive a Lola chassis for Middlebridge Racing in 1990. He took three pole positions and led five races in 1990, but did not win a race during his Formula 3000 career.
Formula One[edit | edit source]
Brabham[edit | edit source]
Hill started his Grand Prix career during the 1991 season as a test driver with the championship-winning Williams team while still competing in the F3000 series. However, midway through 1992 Hill broke into Grand Prix racing as a driver with the struggling Brabham team. The formerly competitive team was in serious financial difficulties. Hill started the season only after three races, replacing Giovanna Amati after her sponsorship had failed to materialise. Amati had not been able to get the car through qualifying but Hill matched his team-mate, Eric van de Poele by qualifying for two races, the mid-season British and Hungarian Grands Prix. Hill continued to test for the Williams team that year and the British Grand Prix saw Nigel Mansell win the race for Williams, while he finished last in the Brabham. The Brabham team collapsed after the Hungarian Grand Prix and did not complete the season.
Williams[edit | edit source]
When Mansell's team-mate Riccardo Patrese left Williams to drive for Benetton in 1993, Hill was unexpectedly promoted to the race team alongside triple world champion Alain Prost ahead of more experienced candidates such as Martin Brundle and Mika Häkkinen. Traditionally, the reigning driver's world champion carries the number '1' on his car and his team-mate takes the number '2'. Because Mansell, the 1992 champion, was not racing in Formula One in 1993, his Williams team were given numbers '0' and '2'. As the junior partner to Prost, Hill took '0', the second man in Formula One history to do so, after Jody Scheckter in 1973.
The season did not start well when Hill spun out of second place shortly after the start of the South African Grand Prix and failed to finish the race after colliding with Alex Zanardi on lap 16. However, at the Brazilian and European Grands Prix, Prost fared poorly in the rain and Hill drove well enough to finish second behind another triple world champion, Ayrton Senna. In his first full season, Hill benefited from the experience of his veteran French team-mate. His results continued to improve as the season went on. He took pole at the French Grand Prix and closely followed Prost, team orders preventing him from seriously challenging for the win. He suffered an engine failure while leading the British Grand Prix and a puncture near the end of the German Grand Prix also while leading. Hill went on to win three successive races at the Hungarian, Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. In doing so he became the first son of a Formula One Grand Prix winner to take victory himself. Hill's third consecutive win clinched the constructors' championship for Williams and moved him temporarily to second in the drivers' standings until McLaren's Ayrton Senna passed him by winning the last two races. Prost finished the season as champion.
Main Article: Damon Hill/1994 Season
The 1994 Formula One season was Damon's third in Formula One and his second for the Williams Team. He became the team leader after the death of team mate Ayrton Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix. His lost the championship by 1 point to Micheal Scumacher at the last round, winning 6 races along the way, and earning 91 points.
Coming into the 1995 season, Hill was one of the title favourites. The Williams team were reigning constructors' champions, having beaten Benetton in 1994, and with young David Coulthard, who was embarking on his first full
season in Formula One, as team-mate, Hill was the clear number one driver. The year started badly when he spun off in Brazil due to a mechanical problem, but wins in the next two races put him in the championship lead. However, Schumacher won seven of the next twelve races, and took his second title with two races to spare, while Benetton took the constructors' championship. Schumacher and Hill had several on-track incidents during the season, two of which led to suspended one race bans. Schumacher's penalty was for blocking and forcing Hill off the road at the Belgian Grand Prix; Hill's was for colliding with Schumacher under braking at the Italian Grand Prix. Hill's season finished positively when he won the Australian Grand Prix by finishing two laps ahead of the runner-up, Olivier Panis in a Ligier.
1995 was a disappointing season for Hill: some of the Williams team had been frustrated with his performances and Frank Williams began to consider bringing in Heinz-Harald Frentzen to replace him. 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 Williams.
becoming the only son of a Formula One champion to win the championship himself. Taking eight wins and never qualifying off the front row, Hill enjoyed by far his most successful season. At Monaco, where his father had won five times in the 1960s, he led until his engine failed, curtailing his race and allowing Olivier Panis to take his only Formula One win. Near the end of the season, Villeneuve began to mount a title challenge and took pole in the Japanese Grand Prix, the final race of the year. However, Hill took the lead at the start and won both the race and the championship after the Canadian retired.
Starting from the front row in every race of the season, he equaled Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost with their record, as well as for 'most starts from front row in a season'. In 2011, Sebastian Vettel also started from the front row 16 times, although he did not start from front row in all of the races.
Despite winning the title, Hill learned before the season's close that he was to be dropped by Williams in favour of Frentzen for the following season. Hill left Williams as the team's second most successful driver in terms of race victories, with 21, second only to Mansell. Hill's 1996 world championship earned him his second BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award, making him one of only three people to receive the award twice – the others being boxer Henry Cooper and Mansell. Hill was also awarded the Segrave Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club. The trophy is awarded to the British national who accomplishes the most outstanding demonstration of the possibilities of transport by land, sea, air, or water.
Arrows[edit | edit source]
As world champion, Hill was in high demand, and had offers to drive from both McLaren and Ferrari. However, in Hill's opinion neither fully financially valued his World Champion status. Instead, he signed for Arrows, a team which had never won a race in its 20-year history and had scored only a single point the previous year. His title
defence in 1997 proved unsuccessful, getting off to a poor start when he only narrowly qualified for the Australian Grand Prix, and then retired on the parade lap. The Arrows car, using tyres from series debutant Bridgestone and engines from previously unsuccessful Yamaha, was generally uncompetitive, and Hill did not score his first point for the team until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July. The highlight of the year came at the Hungarian Grand Prix. On a day when the Bridgestone tyres had a competitive edge over their Goodyear rivals, Hill qualified third in a car which had not previously placed higher than 9th on the grid. During the race he passed championship contender Michael Schumacher on the track and was leading late in the race, well ahead of the eventual 1997 World Champion Villeneuve, when a hydraulic problem drastically slowed the Arrows. Villeneuve passed Hill, who finished second and achieved the team's first podium since the 1995 Australian Grand Prix.
Jordan[edit | edit source]
Hill left Arrows after one season and after coming close to signing for the Prost team run by his former team-mate, decided instead to sign for the Jordan team for the 1998 season. His driving partner there was Ralf Schumacher, the younger brother of Michael. In the first half of the season the car was off the pace and unreliable. At the Canadian Grand Prix however, things began to improve. Hill moved up to second place as others retired or pitted for fuel. On lap 38, Schumacher, delayed by a stop-and-go penalty for forcing Frentzen's Williams off the track, caught Hill on the home straight; Hill moved across the track three times to block Schumacher,
who missed his braking point and ran over the kerbs at the chicane to take the place. Hill was running fourth after his only pit stop when he retired with an electrical failure. After the race Schumacher accused Hill of dangerous driving. Hill responded that Schumacher "cannot claim anyone drives badly when you look at the things he's been up to in his career. He took Frentzen out completely." At the German Grand Prix Hill scored his first point of the year, and at the Belgian Grand Prix in very wet conditions he took Jordan's first win. Hill was leading late in the race, with teammate Schumacher closing rapidly, when he suggested that team principal Eddie Jordan tell Schumacher to hold position, instead of risking losing a 1–2 finish. Jordan followed the suggestion, ordering Schumacher not to overtake. Only eight drivers finished the race. The victory was his first since being dropped by the Williams team, which won no races that season. Hill finished the year with a last lap move on Frentzen at the Japanese Grand Prix which earned him fourth place in the race, and Jordan fourth in the constructors' championship.
Hopes were high for 1999, but Hill did not enjoy a good season. Struggling with the new four-grooved tyres introduced that year, he was outpaced by his new team-mate—Heinz-Harald Frentzen, his replacement at Williams two years previously—and appeared to lose motivation. After a crash at the Canadian Grand Prix he announced plans to retire from the sport at the end of the year, but after failing to finish the French Grand Prix, which Frentzen won, he considered quitting immediately.
Jordan persuaded Hill to stay on for the British Grand Prix. Going into the weekend, Hill announced he would retire after the race, so Jordan had Jos Verstappen test their car ready to replace Hill should the need arise. Following a strong fifth place at his home event, Hill changed his mind, and decided to see out the year. His best result for the remainder of the season was sixth place, which he achieved in both Hungary and Belgium. With three races of 1999 to go, there were rumours that the Prost team would release Jarno Trulli, who had signed for Jordan for 2000, early to replace Hill, but the Briton completed the season. Meanwhile, his team-mate Frentzen was a title contender going into the final few races, and eventually finished third in the championship. Hill and Frentzen helped Jordan to its best-ever finish of third in the constructors' championship. At the Japanese Grand Prix, Hill's last race in Formula One ended when he spun off the track and pulled into the pits to retire a healthy car.
Helmet Design[edit | edit source]
Damon's helmet design is similar to his farther Graham's. It is a drak blue/black colour with white strips going along the top with a pointed edge.
Complete Formula One results[edit | edit source]
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)