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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK


Your memories of Damon Hill's career

Although Damon Hill for me was not the main man, I will certainly miss him. He's one of the few drivers with the right blend of fairness, sportsmanship (something from which certain other drivers can learn a lot) and skill, topped with a typical British humour. I enjoyed his glorious moment when he finally got the world tiltle in 1996. It's sad that after that, things went downhill, but it takes a strong personality to make this difficult decision when faced with adversity. I wish you all the best, Damon!
Iwan R Blom, USA

From this side of the pond, I have never understood how Hill could be "a great sporting hero." Yes, he won quite a few races, but he should have won many more given the obvious superiority of the Williams he raced in. Mostly, he seems like a whiner who constantly makes excuses. Goodbye Damon, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Peter Roth, USA

Damon Hill is the best British F1 driver in recent years. In his first full season, in 1993, I remember the way he competed with and beat two of the greatest F1 drivers ever- Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. His battles with Michael Schumacher were amazing, and that race, Suzuka 98, was excellent, and he fully deserves the 96 F1 world championship. Damon will be missed sorely.
Greg Kotecha, UK

I am often saddened by the criticism of some so called experts who consider Damon only won the championships because of a superior car. Look at the facts - in his first year he was on equal terms with Prost by the middle of the season and beside winning three races was unlucky not to win in Britain and Germany due to mechanical problems. In losing out to Schumacher in 94 he showed dignity and courage and although 95 was not a brilliant year, he finally got his dues in 96 by beating Villeneuve in equal equipment. Good luck for the future Damon, and I hope that the next great British driver in waiting does not have to wait until they are 32 before being given a chance by the powerbrokers of F1.
Peter Lakey, UK

Damon is without doubt the best British driver of his era. He has performed throughout without whingeing, complaining or ever belittling his rivals. He should have been World Champion in 1994, but he waited 4 years before speaking out on that issue. A true gentleman. He will be back - in another guise - whether as commentator, pundit, who can say? The heart has really gone out of F1 now - there will never be another like him
Isobel, UK

A great great loss for F1. I've been a Damon Hill fan since the moment het stepped into the Brabham years ago, and enjoyed all his appearances in F1. Although the 99 season has not been the best season so far, I am sure that Hill will show the world what he can do at least once this year: that is win a race!! Even Schumacher said it is a shame that Hill retires. Above all, Damon has tought the world a lesson: you can be a top athlete (driver) without losing your manners and by staying a gentlemen Thanks Damon for the great years, and all the fans hope to see you in action after 1999 somewhere, sometime.
Guy Soudant, Netherlands 

I heard with some sadness that this country is to lose one of it's true gentleman sports personalities. I have been a motorsports fan since childhood, and always followed the home grown talent that appeared over the years. Damon has been a delight to follow, with his general attitude to the sport. Always appearing polite towards other drivers, even when pushed to the limit. Always appearing to have time to talk to the press. Always being himself, never wanting to be regarded as the follow-on to his father's undoubted talent. Although saddened to hear the news, I admire the guts it has taken to bow out gracefully in what has not been a good year - results wise. We all know that Damon has given it his best shot, and has come out tops already. It was always going to be hard to follow the World Championship title, but Damon persevered, even moving to a much smaller team to give them the measure of success they deserved. Let us hope that our remaining British drivers strive to give us another British World Champion very soon.
Pete Buckingham, UK

Not a great driver but way-and-above the popular conception that exists. Once World Champion and deserving to do it twice ... not so many drivers can claim that. Other drivers have been (or are) better? I think so, but the important part of racing is the final result. Alain Prost was often considered a cautious driver but, like Damon Hill, he made enough points during the year to be amongst the leaders. Congratulations and good luck.
David Brew, Brazil

Watching the F1 races for me means sitting up till the early hours - often not going to sleep until 2-3 am when the broadcast is over! Damon is an incredibly talented driver and his rivalry with Schumacher made every race nailbitingly exciting! It's going to be a great loss to F1 but hopefully he will take up a different role within it (He'd be great commentating beside Murray!). I wish him all the best for his future path.
Suzanne Donovan, Australia

I have been a long time fan of Damon Hill throughout his F1 career since he addressed a crowd including myself in Crystal Palace back in 1993. It is my view he was quite underrated and misunderstood, especially by the F1 "experts". I also cannot forget that fateful day in Adelaide when Michael Schumacher cheated his way to the title by intentionally bumping Damon Hill off the track. Damon Hill will be severely missed by his fans all over the world and Formula One has lost a great competitor.
Ifeanyi Duru, USA

I was an avid Williams fan for years. It was only when Damon Hill left the team that I stuck with the driver and dropped the team. As so many people have said, his drive in Hungary '97 was astounding and will be, for me, one of the best drives ever seen. However we must remember two things. Firstly Damon is retiring from Formula One but hopefully not from racing. Maybe we can see him emulate Nigel Mansell and take a touring car for a spin every now and again. Secondly, we still have British representation in F1. David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert are all excellent drivers. These guys will keep the Union Jack flying above the winners podium for us. Good luck Damon in whatever you choose to do. You have lived the dream for many of us.
Tim Spencer English, residing in the USA

Although racing is not the No.1 sport in my country, pilots like Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill make you fall in love with F1. After Ayrton Senna died I thought I wouldn't support F1 racing anymore, but when I saw Hill race I changed my mind. I won't feel the same enthusiasm for F1 now, not untill the next Hill comes forward. I most enjoyed his 1996 season when he won the championship. Goodbye champ!
Uri Ridelman, Costa Rica

An incredible driver. He was able to fight his way through the field like he did in Portugal in 1993, in Belgium in 1996 and in Italy in 1998; to beat everybody in wet conditions (Japan 1994, Argentina 1995, Brazil 1996, Belgium 1998); or simply to lead from start to finish like it was in many many races. A real gentleman and an example of fair and noble behaviour. We will miss you, Damon but the memories of your victories will stay with us for good.
Jahor Novikau, Belarus

I have watched with absolute joy Damon's spectacular career. Having lived in Australia all that time, I watched joyously when he won the Australian Grand Prix. I have been a racing fan for years and was introduced to Formula 1 by my dad who used to race motorcylces in England. Damon is an amazing driver with incredible skill. I will sadly miss him. Not only because he is a brilliant racer but because he is also a genuinely nice person. All the best Damon. You will be sadly missed from racing.
Jennifer Williams, UK

I am saddened that Damon is retiring, but would much rather that he went now than was reduced to being a backmarker in a second rate team. He has been a real credit to Britain and F1 and I'm immensely proud to have watched him in F3, F3000 and F1. I, like Murray Walker, found myself unable to speak when he won the title. His father would have been so proud.
Richard Williams, UK

I have supported Damon since he appeared at the back of the grid for the last few races of 1992 in a pink and blue Brabham. He has provided us with some truly great drives including Suzuka 94, Hungary 97 and of course Spa 98. My favorite memory of Damon is when he was racing Schumacher at Spa in 95. One was on slicks the other on intermediates. It was wet and drizzling. The shot of them wheel to wheel coming down the long straight is one I shall always remember. He has always been a true gentleman and someone who manages to draw that little bit of extra strength when the chips were down. My whole family has supported Damon since he joined Formula One and we are all saddened at his decision to leave.
Phil Hubbard, UK

He was the King of the Underdogs. For all those who had belief in themselves but had others doubting them there was Damon like a shining light and inspiration. Thanks for the great memories and inspiration!
Will Kelly, UK

I have been a great fan of Damon since 1993 when he joined up with Williams. He had his ups and downs with Arrows but I stayed with him. He won Hungary in 93, 95 and yes, ALSO in 97. Fresh in my memory, is his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. He's one of the few I'd like to meet and talk to, it would be great. The first time I was in England I touched his 1994 car in London back in 1998, A touch for life - consider me a fan for life.
Laurens Steffers, The Netherlands

Damon Hill epitomises the British sportsman - gallant in defeat, modest in victory, and a true gentleman of F1.  If one word could sum up Damon Hill, it would be dignity.  Damom sparked off my interest in F1, and it will seem empty and worthlesss without him. Being robbed of victory and finishing second in Hungary 1997 while driving the Arrows was the best driving performance I have ever seen.  Winning the championship in 1996 and winning at Spa in 1998 are also very fond memories of a top class driver. I salute you, Damon Hill - a true British champion.
Shaun Linegar, UK

The last driver I support in F1 is leaving. Goodbye Damon, I'll miss you. I cheered for you from day one at Williams. You are a true gentleman and one of the few sportsmen left.
Steve Coe, UK

I am very sad to hear of Damon's retirement.1996 was one of the best years in F1 as far as I was concerned. I followed his racing avidly, still do...will be a great loss to the sport.
Pauline Balfour, UK

A nice guy but a tad overrated for my liking. What did he ever do except win races and the championship in a far superior car? Truly great drivers make even an awful car perform (Senna in the 1993 McLaren, M Schumacher in the 1997 Ferrari etc).
Gary J Baker, UK

While not wishing any detriment to the illustrious Murray Walker, might I suggest that Damon would be an excellent commentator/ambassador for the sport for 2000 and beyond. I believe he can emulate the professionalism out of the car that has been the experience of Jackie Stewart. All the best to him.
Andrew Smith, UK

I'm old enough to have rooted for Damon's father in BRM's, and shall miss Damon when he's gone from F1. But he never seemed to be enjoying what he was doing, whether it was struggling in an inferior car or even piloting a superior one. Some saw this diffidence as a lack of the necessary aggressiveness - I suppose Frank Williams did, for one. I'm too far away to know. In any event, I'm rooting for him to make it safely through the rest of the season and to enjoy whatever he does next more than he seemed to enjoy what he did last.
James E Rouen, USA

A thoroughly good bloke who brought pleasure to millions. Schumacher will have an easier run now!
Edward Bunn, UK

When Nigel Mansell retired, we had a ready made replacement, Damon Hill; hero by proxy, the underdog made good. Now Damon is retiring there is no one left to fill his boots; it's the end of the line for the era of British F1 greats, people who you'd tune the TV in for at 5am just because it was him.
Andy Barsby, UK

I have been watching F1 races since 1993 and have been a fan of Damon Hill since then. Watching Damon win the WC in 96 was a dream come true. The GP of Hungary 97 was just awesome. To see Damon almost win the race in an inferior car was just a great feeling. Spa 98 was even better since he won the race with a great drive in the rain. To me F1 has been Damon Hill. I don't know whom to cheer for from the next season on 'cause to me Damon was the best. I wish Damon all the best for his future. I'll miss you Damon. F1 will never be the same again.
Boddu Sreenivas, USA

Damon has proved that nice guys can win but the sport of formula one is becoming ever more ruthless. He now stands out as a polite gentleman in a sport dominated by high-testerone agression.Consistenly humiliated by HH and the younger chumacher, the dignity of this most under-rated ex-world champion has forced him to yield to the inevitable. He is past his best now but we will all remember the elegance of his peak form in albeit overhwhelmingly dominant machinery at Williams.
Andy Szebeni, UK

Many memories of watching Damon all round the world, from the heat of Barcelona, to the rain at Spa. Hill was a true Professional, and watching F1 will not be the same without him.
Tim Setterfield, UK

He is and has been one of the best sporting icons Britain has had for many years, embodying everything that it is good in a British Sportsman. Gracious and dignified in both victory and defeat he has always felt like a very real person, in an age when so many stars are far from real, and when decency and honesty are considered unnecessary characteristics in a sportsman.
I could not say he is the best racing driver ever, but his long hard work for the world championship in 1996 seemed all the more thrilling because of that. I remember waking up early one Sunday morning to watch the Japanese Grand Prix and see him take that well earned championship victory. I will remember it for a long time. British Motor Racing is losing its best personality.
Matt Oseman, Rochester

A Driver and a Gentleman, In a time when acerb competition and fabulous salaries sour relations in the F1 drivers' "family", Damon is an example of fair-play, dignity and modesty. He represents a tradition of British gentleman-drivers: Hawthorne, Moss, his father Graham, Watson and Mansell. I am happy to see now that David Coulthard will continue this tradition.
N.B. Szirbik, The Netherlands

It was with sadness I heard of Damon's retirement from Formula One. I wish him well in the future and I hope to see him racing in some other category of motorsport. He has been a terrific example of sportsmanship in what is a very cut-throat business.
My wife was not interested in F1 until Damon arrived on the scene. She has become a great fan, and I think Damon had that effect on many people in Britain. We tend to idolise sports men and women when they have even a sniff of success, but in Damon, we had just cause to be proud. His World Championship win proves that.
Andy Scholes, Weston Super Mare, UK

I don't know why everyone is so surprised. At 38 Damon has obviously lost the edge (evident in his last few races) which is vital for any F1 driver. I think it's more than just a coincidence that he decided to launch a TV career this year. Good but not a Great.
Geoff Hall

I don't know a great deal about Formula One but take an interest in it because my husband is a fanatic. Damon Hill has been nothing less than a complete gentleman on and off the track and he deserves to spend more time with his young family and his wife. I count it an honour to have seen him racing live at the Goodwood Revival Meeting last September when he appeared to have time for everyone even though he must have been under tremendous time pressures.
Carrie O'Rourke

Of all the Grand Prix I have seen since the early '70's, 2 stand out in my memory - Peter Gethin's victory in the 5 car scramble at the finish of the Italian Grand Prix in 1971, and Damon's unbelievable drive in the apparently totally uncompetitive Arrows, at the Hungaroring in 1997. He may not have won, but that race above all others showed what a great driver he was. Thanks for the memories Damon, and good luck for the future.
Mark Hudson, UK

I have only ever been to see Grand Prix live twice and both were qualification days at the British Grand Prix in the days when it was a two-day affair. I got lucky, I chose the qualification day that counted on both occasions and Damon Hill did not disappoint. In fact on both occasions he won pole position in the dying seconds - outpacing his rival of several years Michael Schumacher. Indeed, the rivalry between these two drivers remains one of the legacies of recent motor sport. I think it's time Damon, but with only a few races left let's hope that Jordan's second win is not far away.
Peter Smailes, UK

We just hope that this is the beginning of an equally illustrious career in Formula One commentating alongside Murray and Martin (the Dream Team). Good luck for the future Damon, see you at Silverstone.
Lynne & Jackie

What a pity that Damon has decided to leave Formula One. After winning the World Championship I looked forward to many more years of well deserved British success in F1 racing. Although still a force to be reckoned with on the track I understand why you have made this decision and wish you many happy years with your family. The whole racing world will miss you. F1 will never be the same again.
Mark Flexman, Bournemouth, UK

I have followed Damon's career for some years, and have always admired his down to earth honesty when assessing his performance. His epic battles with Micheal Schumacher and his 1996 championship victory are landmarks for British motorsport. That last race in Suzuka in '96 - a very tense time, and what a finish! I hope Britains sporting press and the public will give him his dues as one of Britains great sporting heroes.
Martin Fellows, UK

Nice guys can, will, and do come in first. Thanks Damon for the proof and the years of excitement...
Luis Folan, Dublin Ireland

A driver of calm passion; a gentleman on and off the track who still managed to achieve the highest accolades. Not many can make that claim. His achievements were even more remarkable considering how he was often perceived as living in his father's shadow. He was truly a bright light in an often clouded sport and will be sorely missed.
Matthew Pain

Damon's best drive in my memory is the Japanese GP 1994, where he won an amazing race under the most awful weather conditions. He held Schumacher at bay and in a heart-stopping last few laps "against the stopwatch" (the race was restarted so the final result was the aggregate time of the two parts) he won by a mere few seconds to keep his hopes for the title alive. We all know what happened at the next race in Australia. A great demonstration of determination and will.
Bruno Battaglia, Italy

He got Murray Walker a lump in his throat and kept him quiet for a few minutes, surely not many people can achieve this?
Michael Seed

In 1997, some 14,000 fans turned up at the TWR Arrows team's open day in Leafield, Oxfordshire. It was a hot and sunny early summer's day. The team had only expected a fraction of the turnout - Damon Hill was who they had come to see and he didn't disappoint them, signing countless autographs, cracking jokes and generally being a all-round nice guy.
It's been a relatively short career for Damon in F1, but in 25 years of being a F1 fan, his contribution has been the highlight for me. He will be sorely missed by many next year.
Ian, UK

As a tremendously underrated driver, Damon Hill has acted like a gentleman throughout his seven years in Formula One. As the only opposition to Michael Schumacher throughout 1994 - 1996, he drove like a true champion with a degree of grit, determination and perseverance sadly missing in so many of today's drivers.
Helen Brown, Liverpool, UK

It is very sad to hear of Damon's retirement from Formula 1, having given the sport so much throughout the 1990s. He will obviously be remembered for some great drives, being robbed of the championship in 1994 and winning it in 1996, but he was also a great test driver, and Nigel Mansell has previously credited him with help on his 1992 triumph.
One of my main memories is his drive in Hungary in 1997 when he was driving for Arrows, one of the worst cars on the track. He managed to take Villeneuve's Williams at the start, then after a battle with Michael Schumacher took the lead. He dominated the race despite the poor equipment and so nearly won, being let down by a slight mechanical failure on the final lap. I wish him a happy retirement, and will miss him being a major part of Formula 1.
Clive Stacey, York, UK

Hardly a great Sporting hero! In a far superior car he blew the field away and became World Champion - tempted by greed and money he has now gone back down the pecking order and is what he always has been - just an ordinary driver always watching a better driver's exhaust. Listening to Murray Walker talking about him is cringeworthy in the extreme.
Julian Dark, UK

Damon is not a cheat, not like a lot of other drivers who have come into "contact" with him, but he has been continuously hounded each time he strayed from being perfect. He has been knocked down, and got up again and again, and continued to give his all. So come on Damon, rub the critics' noses in it. Go out on a high. You still have the support of the British people. Best of luck for the rest of the season.
Roy Tanner, Montevideo, Uruguay

When you look at teams he has driven for, and the overall results of those teams, it obvious that Damon if far better than most (all?) of the press gave him credit for. He had the ability to develop a car, look what happens when he left Williams, he took Arrows to a level they could have only dreamt of and was only denied a victory by the cruellest of failures.
Look at both of these teams now, and the marked improvement of Jordan over the past 2 seasons, and re-evaluate your opinion of him. I for one will miss him on the grid.
Andrew Baker, UK

We will miss him terribly, F1 racing will never be the same. He has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time and I am proud to be a fan of his. I'm sure Jordan will continue to be strong and be a top team; but we will always remember who won them there first race!!!!! Bye Damon, you're a hero!
Jo Elsworth, North Yorkshire, UK

Damon really should have retired last year.
Mark Hassett

A man of great character, following in his father's footsteps, adding much to his family's great history in F1. He'll be missed, but he's doing the right thing - at 38 he's starting to become a shadow of his former self. He has brought great dignity to F1 despite all he's been through - picking up after his father's death, Senna's death (he then became Williams' team leader), fights with Schumacher, the anguish of missing out on the F1 title in '94 & '95 only to win it in '96. His rare ability will be sorely missed. A true British hero.
David S Wilson


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