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After a career on the track that saw him emulate his father and Grand Prix great Graham Hill, the former Formula 1 World Champion went on to serve as President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club where he managed to secure the long-term future of historic British racetrack Silverstone. Damon looks back on his rivalry with Schumacher and racing alongside teammates Senna and Prost, on dealing with risk, competition, and the focus required to win in the fastest, richest sport.
It is not easy having a famous father and even harder to succeed in a field in which they have excelled. But Damon Hill achieved just that when, like his father Graham, he became Formula One World Champion.
The first son of a world champion to win the title (and until Nico Rosberg, the only one) - the challenges Damon had to overcome make his success all the more admirable. When his father was killed in a light aircraft accident (when Damon was fifteen), the family were left in difficult financial as well as emotional circumstances. Damon worked as a labourer and motorbike courier to finance his education and started his racing career on two wheels, going on to win the 350cc Clubman's Cup at Brands Hatch.
Moving to cars and working his way through the Formulas, it was whilst working as a test driver with Williams that Damon made his Formula One debut for the struggling Brabham team. Promoted to the Williams team, he went on to race alongside former champions Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, and Ayrton Senna. Damon’s controversial rivalry with Michael Schumacher, both on and off the track, provided rich fodder for the motor racing press throughout the mid-nineties. When the two collided at the Australian Grand Prix, Schumacher snatched his first title by a single point. Two years later, after another Schumacher victory and a runner-up placing, Damon took eight victories and eventually the world championship.
After seasons with the Jordan and Arrows teams, Damon retired from F1, going on to appear regularly in the media, both sporting and non-sporting. As a former President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, the group of elite motorsport competitors and the owners of Silverstone, Damon was key to securing the long-term future of the history race track. He looks back on an unconventional racing career, the ups and downs, the sacrifices and triumphs, the adrenaline and the discipline that it took to be world champion.
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