Damon at Goodwood

Damon Hill was back in an F1 car last weekend, eight months after he last stepped out of the Jordan 199 in Suzuka. No, he was not making a fulltime comeback - he was merely driving one of the original Hondas at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Damon at Goodwood

"I can hardly call it driving," joked Damon after his run on Sunday morning. "I drove it down to the collecting area, then it didn't start. We finally got it started, and someone crashed, so I had to stop half way up. But it was a great car, and it's great to see that they came over with a full crew of Japanese mechanics, just like in the old days. It's a bit of a giggle actually."

It was appropriate for Damon to be driving a car from the sixties. He grew up around the cars of that era, although as a youngster he wasn't particularly interested in what was going on in the pits.

"I wasn't no. It brings back very strange feelings. As you say I grew up in the paddock, and I can remember accepting it as being the norm. It takes me back more than 30 years."

Damon certainly looked the part, for he'd turned up with an appropriate open-faced helmet. He had used it on the ride down to Goodwood on his Harley Davidson, although that decision was not without its drawbacks. "I got a fly caught in my teeth - for the first time ever!"

Enjoying his new role as an observer, Damon says F1 has been intriguing this year, although it could be better.

"My only thought was that wouldn't it have been great if Rubens had beaten Michael in Canada? Then that would have made it more exciting. We seem to have gone for years now without really having a head-to-head, or anyone really putting the pressure on Michael. It's not going to be interesting until we get that situation."

It's certainly true that we've rarely seen Michael and Mika Hakkinen racing head-to-head - a far cry from the gripping Hill/Schumacher battles of 1994-95.

"One season they were never on the podium together! I'm speaking simply as an armchair watcher of Grands Prix. I stay at home, I turn it on, and I watch it. You come away thinking what a shame that David's car didn't get started on the grid, couldn't they have just turned a blind eye and let it go anyway? As I said, the other thing was, what if Rubens was allowed to win, just to spice it up a bit? But of course if I was Michael, I'd be arguing the other thing altogether."

This year it has been getting pretty interesting behind the top two, but Damon says that's not significant.

"Interesting behind is not interesting! You want to know who's going to win."

Some might be surprised that Damon is even paying attention to the races. Is he watching religiously, or have there been times when he preferred to be out with the kids on a Sunday afternoon?

"I can't comment on that! Put it this way - I haven't been 100% glued to the television at every race."

Any mixed feelings when he sees the cars lined up on the grid?

"No mixed feelings at all. I'm just very glad I'm not doing it."

Of course the question everyone has been asking is what Damon will do with the rest of his life. Some thought he looked a little lost when he came to Imola and Silverstone earlier this year, but he's in no hurry to let us know what he has got in mind.

"There's plenty of opportunities, and I'm just enjoying not doing anything particularly at the moment."

Although he's competed in cars and bikes at the Goodwood circuit meeting for the past two years, don't expect to see him make a racing comeback in September.

"I don't think I'm going, because it clashes with my birthday. I've got something else I've got planned."

Ah yes, the big four-oh is fast approaching...

shares
comments
Murray to miss French Grand Prix

Previous article

Murray to miss French Grand Prix

Next article

F1 heads to Magny-Cours

F1 heads to Magny-Cours
Load comments
Why unseen Hungary heroics could be the making of F1's most overlooked driver Plus

Why unseen Hungary heroics could be the making of F1's most overlooked driver

The chaotic start to the Hungarian GP set the scene for F1's less heralded drivers to make a name for themselves. Esteban Ocon did just that to win in fine style, but further down the order one driver was making his first visit to the points and - while the circumstances were fortunate - took full advantage of the chance presented to him

Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Hungarian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

This was race that showcased the best and worst of Formula 1, producing a first time winner and a memorable comeback to a podium finish. Avoiding trouble at the start and astute strategy calls were key to success, but where some drivers took full advantage, others made key errors that cost them dearly

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph Plus

The “heart-breaking” call that led to Ocon’s Hungarian GP triumph

Set to restart the red-flagged Hungarian Grand Prix in second, Esteban Ocon had some doubts when he peeled into the pits to swap his intermediate tyres for slicks. But this "heart-breaking" call was vindicated in spectacular fashion as the Alpine driver staved off race-long pressure from Sebastian Vettel for a memorable maiden Formula 1 victory

Formula 1
Aug 2, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

Formula 1
Jul 30, 2021
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021