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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK


End of the road for Hill

Damon Hill is retiring from Formula One racing

Damon Hill has announced his retirement from Formula One racing from the end of the 1999 season.


BBC Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard: "Hill has failed to find his form this season"
Hill, who won the Drivers World Championships in 1996 for the Williams team, celebrated his most recent victory in the Belgian Grand Prix last season.

But the 38-year-old, who now drives for the Jordan team, crashed out of the Canadian grand prix on Sunday - the latest unhappy chapter in a troubled season.

Hill said: "After much reflection I have decided not to continue racing in Formula One after the end of the 1999 season.


[ image: Damon Hill:
Damon Hill: "I am very pround of my record of winning 22 grands prix"
"Despite being a late starter to Formula One, at the age of 32, I am very proud of my record of having won 22 grands prix and the world championship itself.

"Formula One has afforded me many incredible opportunities and I will cherish some fantastic memories.

" I have fulfilled my ambitions and consider myself very fortunate to have done so."

Motorbikes

Hill began his career on motorbikes before finally following in his father's footsteps when he moved onto four-wheel competition in the mid 1980's.

After being forced to pay his own way through his early years, Hill made his grand prix debut at Silverstone in 1992 for the Brabham-Judd team but by then he was also a test driver for the ever improving Williams' team.


Williams team boss Sir Frank Williams: "He is an outstanding driver"
Frank Williams gave Hill his chance in the 1993 season which he marked with his maiden win at Hungary.

The following season Hill found himself alongside another champion, Ayrton Senna but the Brazilian's death at Imola just three races into the season plunged him into the number one role.

Despite the pressure, Hill responded to the challenge and after coming within one point of winning the World Championships after a fierce duel with Germany's Michael Schumacher he was eventually crowned champion in 1996.

Murray Walker, who has known Hill since he was a youngster, believed Damon Hill's announcement to be a "sensible decision".

Sensible decision

He said: "I'm extremely sorry to see that he is going at the end of the season, but he has made a lot of money and I think at the age of 38, with a charming wife and a lovely family, he has made a sensible decision.

"It's been a pleasure and a privilege to know Damon for a great deal of his life.

"It was undoubtedly one of the most emotional experiences of my career when Damon won the world championship in Japan in '96," Walker added.

Hill's bitter rival Michael Schumacher said: "I was very surprised when I heard this morning that Damon was retiring. I think it is a real pity for Formula One.

Loss to the sport

"Despite his age, Damon was still going strong and I think he will be a loss to the sport. We had some great and interesting battles together on the track."

Jordan Grand Prix team boss Eddie Jordan said Hill was one of "Britain's great sporting heroes" and called his decision to quit "brave and honest".

He said: "This is a sad but typically brave and honest decision by one of Britain's great sporting heroes. Damon was a great world champion and a wonderful ambassador for motorsport worldwide.

"His results will always show he was one of the sport's great winners.

"It was an honour for me personally, for Benson and Hedges, for Mugen-Honda and the whole Jordan team that he achieved the first grand prix victory for a Jordan car in Belgium last year.

"All of us in and associated with the team are proud to have made a contribution to the unique Hill family grand prix legend," he added.

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