The Unsung Legend Of Formula 1 That Was Named Damon Hill
Someone who has gone through struggles and highs, but still remains a gentleman...
When the word gentleman comes to mind, we think of a man who is honorable, respectful, and courteous. Although, when it comes to sports and competition, they're very few who live up to the gentlemen name. Thankfully, in Formula 1, when the word gentleman is brought up in the conversation, many drivers fulfill that definition. Even though when the helmet comes it is a completely different story for most legends. However, you don't need 100 victories and 6 World Titles to be considered a legend. What about the Formula 1 legends who were overlooked? What about the legends who were gentlemen on and off the track?
Damon Hill is a former British racing driver and a 1-Time Formula 1 World Champion. His racing roots were spurred from his father, Graham Hill. Along with Damon, Graham Hill was a Formula 1 2-Time World Champion and a victorious racing driver most frequently in the 1960s. Damon and Graham Hill are the only father and son champions, along with Keke Rosberg and Nico Rosberg. Damon never thought of becoming a Formula 1 driver, yet, he knew his father was an iconic racing driver which made him think about his future. Hill would visit his father's friends such as Jim Clark, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, and John Surtees. What a lucky bloke, imagine your father being friends with the Jim Clark and Sir Stirling Moss... one can wish.
The environment rubbed off on him, and even though Damon liked motorbikes better, he was caught with the Formula 1 bug. Whenever you are truly passionate about something, there is always a hesitance in the back of your head. Damon struggled with the hesitance he felt, Hill was torn about making a career in Formula 1. He was fearful of the dangers of Formula 1, the dangers of the sport affected him when he would see his father's racing mates go one by one. But that never stopped the Brit.
Graham Hill and a young Damon Hill
Passion and determination wasn't the only thing Graham talk Damon, he taught him to be respectful, humble, kind and a true gentleman, something he definitely adapted from his father. And when the time came to prove himself and what his father taught him, Damon used all of his knowledge and perseverance. When Hill made it into Formula 1, he was already married and had a wonderful son Ollie, that was also born with Down Syndrome. Damon knew that all the struggles and obstacles he had faced would help him perform and race against the best names in Formula 1. Names you might have heard of... such as Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, and two of the most successful drivers to have existed in Formula 1, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. The Brit not only performed well under the pressure, but he also beat every one of those legends himself.
Despite the fact that Damon Hill was more reserved, introverted, and humble, that did not stop him from trying his absolute best. Damon now looks back and does not regret trying his best, because he knows you can't go back and do it again. And his time came sooner or later when Damon got the massive opportunity to race for the legendary Williams F1 Team alongside the fabulous Ayrton Senna. The reason why Damon was appointed to Willaims from Brabham is that Sir Frank Willians saw his potential, the prestigious team owner saying himself that he was "a tough bastard". And Damon definitely proved that when he took his first victory at the 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix in the Willam's FW15C. Along the way, Damon also took an incredible 22 wins and 42 podiums. We are talking about a driver that has won 19% of all his races. More than 2-Time World Champion Fernando Alonso, more than 3-Time World Champion Niki Lauda, and in fact more than double his own father, Graham Hill. Underrated? I think yes.
1993 Hungarian Grand Prix
Along with the triumphs the struggles came as well. In the year of 1975, his father and important figure in his life died in a fatal plane crash. It affected Damon, but he let himself grow, learn and greive. Even though Graham never lived to see his son succeed in Formula 1, he was watching over him regardless. Another significant moment in Damon's life was in 1994 when he was fighting for his first World Title, but the person he was fighting against was the legend in making, Michael Schumacher. The two traded fights, going back and forth, side to side. The duo fought it out all throughout the 1994 season, yet the controversial season-ending race in Adelaide proved to be a difficult one. Damon was in the lead, but Michael came victorious in the World Championship run.
Leaving behind all the controversies and theories, what would have been or thought to be Damon's first title was slipped away from him. No matter how difficult it got, he still stayed respectful and humble throughout the journey, speaking well of Michael and all his rivals. Yet, the determined Damon knew he could not give up on what happened, he knew that looking back on his career 20 years from now he could not give up and regret it in the future. And it paid off in the end. At the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix, Damon Hill won his first-ever and only World Championship. His immense work and patience were rewarded. Hill recently explained the feeling as " a little bit odd" when he crossed the line, and he was wondering "what all the fuss was about" because everyone would want to talk to him. But in the end, he said it was so worth it.
And surprisingly, the most rewarding part for Damon was going home, spending time with his wife, playing with his kids, and taking them to school. Damon Hill was and still is the gentleman most people strive to be today. A humble and considerate man, someone who has opened up about his post-F1 career depression struggle, and someone who continues to be modest and good-spirited to this day. Most people and some Formula 1 fans might not know the name Damon Hill, which is unfortunate because his talent was overshadowed by many others.
You don't need 6 World Champions to be a legend, you don't have to be the very best to be a true legend. Damon is the unsung legend of Formula 1, and a gentleman who inspires all throughout the globe. A quote that I have taken from a wise man... "I've got to stop (writing) because I've got a lump in my throat". - Murray Walker
Damon Hill in his father's Lotus