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. The challenges he had to overcome made his success all the more admirable.
Whilst working as a test driver with Williams, Damon made his Formula One debut for the then impoverished Brabham team. After an inauspicious start, he took the first of his 22 victories, at the Hungarian Grand Prix, for Williams the following year.
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.
In January 2012, Damon joined Sky Sports F1 HD channel as a presenter for the F1 2012 season.
Three years later, Damon retired from the sport, after 122 races. He then took on the role of President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, succeeding Jackie Stewart, a role he continued until 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. As British Racing Drivers’ Club President, the former Formula 1 World Champion managed to secure the long-term future of Silverstone. After dinner Damon talks about his rivalry with Schumacher, living in the fast lane while practising self-discipline, and playing guitar on a Def Leppard album.
Damon recounts life on the circuit and how he found the determination and self discipline to succeed.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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